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Click on the subcategories at left for archives of news, press releases, action alerts and articles that have appeared on the NODPA web site in the past.

Recent Industry News


The Crisis in the Organic Dairy Movement

Farmers and Consumers, Working Together, Can Reestablish Economic Justice

A commentary by Mark Kastel, Co-founder, The Cornucopia Institute

Who owns the organic label? We all do. And even if you are not milking cows, the integrity of organic dairy products should be important to you. Not just as an organic consumer but because, after produce, dairy is the second-largest industry sector and directly impacts many other workers and businesses (grain and hay suppliers, feed mills, veterinarians, truck drivers, plant workers, etc.). It's billions of dollars in organic commerce. And for many consumers, it's a "gateway" product, bringing organic food into their homes for the first time as their children age out of breastfeeding.

Read the whole article here.

Message from the NODPA President

It has been said that trying to get farmers to agree on dairy policy is like herding cats – they just always splinter off in all directions. But I am happy to say that I witnessed dairy farmers coming together with a united voice during the Dairy Summit in Albany, NY back in mid-August. The meeting was sponsored by Agri- Mark Dairy Cooperative, CoBank, and Farm Credit East; it drew over 400 conventional and organic dairy farmers, representatives from other coops, ag lenders, and even a few politicians. A few were from as far away as California and Maine. A group of farmers from Wisconsin chartered a bus for the 18-hour trip. Most drove in from New York, Pennsylvania, and New England. There was real consensus that farmers must control the supply through their coops to effectively stabilize the price. Some well thought-out proposals were presented to the group. I am not sure that one proposal won out over the others that day; farmers were energized to think of a fair system that would allow the survival of their farms, and most of the plans would do that. Most of the farmers there were conventional, now in their 4th year of low prices; the fear and desperation were palpable. They would agree because they had to do something together.

Read the whole article here.

Analyzing Your Dairy Profits

Dale M. Johnson, Farm Management Specialist, University of Maryland Extension

Due to unexpected family responsibilities, Sarah Flack is unable to attend this year's NODPA Field Days. We are fortunate to have Farm Management Specialist Dale Johnson step in and lead the NODPA Field Days workshop, Money Matters: Demystifying Financial Recordkeeping to Improve your Farm's Decision Making Capacity and Bottom Line.

What price are you getting for a hundred pounds of organic milk? If you are like most dairy farmers, you know the price or you can get it quickly by reviewing milk check receipts. But do you know how much profit you make per cow? If you are like many dairy farmers, you may not know. Your acreage or dairy facilities limit the number of cows you can milk, so maximizing your profits per cow determines your standard of living and viability. This article explains how to calculate your profit per cow per year. By analyzing your income, expenses, and profit per cow, you can benchmark your farm against other farms to determine your strengths and weaknesses. This article will show you the average of seven organic farms that I work with that you can compare your farm to.

Read the whole article here.


Weeds or Forbs?

By Jeffrey Semler, Extension Educator, University of Maryland Extension-Washington County, a part of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR), University of Maryland

It is often said the beauty is in the eye of the beholder and nowhere is this truer than in the pasture. By definition, a weed is an unwanted plant or a plant out of place. To many livestock producers, a weed is any plant other than grass.

Read the whole article here.

Vermont Organic Dairy Farm
Profitability 2016

2018 marked a sad year for the Vermont agricultural community with the passing of Extension Economist Bob Parsons. As part of his legacy UVM, along with NOFA VT, is working to continue with the ongoing organic dairy profitability study. This article provides a summary of the 2016 data collected by Bob and the rest of the study team.

For the year 2016, 35 Vermont organic dairy farms participated in the study. All farms have been certified organic for at least 2 years, with some over 15 years. The smallest farm in the study milked 26 cows and the largest milked 145. The average number of cows per farm was 64.1.

Profitability analysis of the 2016 data shows that the average Return on Assets (ROA) for farms in the study remained similar to the previous two years at 1.88% (compared with 1.71% in 2015 and 1.81% in 2014). Milk prices were also very similar to 2015, with an average price per hundredweight received of $35.58/cwt (compared with $35.59/cwt in 2015). This relatively high price did not last long...

Read More

Organic Milk Pay, Retail and Feed Prices
Update for July 2018

USDA AMS reports total organic milk products sales for May were 219 million pounds, down 3.1 percent from May 2017, but up 0.1 percent January-May 2018 compared with the same period of 2017. Organic whole milk sales for May 2018, 88 million pounds, were down 0.1 percent compared with May of the previous year, but up 5.6 percent year-to-date 2018 compared with 2017.

Utilization of organic milk appears to be changing for the overall benefit in demand for farmgate organic milk. Nationally the USDA AMS reports no increase in sales of organic milk at retail from 2016 to 2017, with increases in whole milk offsetting the decline of non-fat products. In the only Federal Milk Marketing Order that reports utilization of organic milk, despite the fact that all the others have the data and capacity to do so, the monthly report shows that in Federal Milk Market Order 1, in New England, utilization of organic whole milk in May 2018 totaled...

Read More


Added March 27, 2018

Organic Certification, from the
Inspector’s Perspective:
An Interview with Arden Landis

What are your thoughts on the certification process, especially from an inspector’s point of view?

“One of the things I have observed is that agencies make their money by the farmers paying them to certify them. If farmers find one agency provides better services than another that is where they go. Some agencies are very efficient at determining if specific products are allowed in organic production. Some have more tedious paper work.
 If I see one real problem in the whole process, it is that the agencies make their money off the farmers they certify. They don’t want to lose farmers. If a certifier is too tough, farmers find out and they will move from one agency to another. I don’t know how you’re going to get around this. It is just the reality of the situation.”

For the full article please go to:


Anatomy of a Wet Year:
Insights from New York Farmers

Key Findings

  • The 2017 heavy rainfalls and flooding impacted farms across New York State.
  • Crops grown on clayey soils suffered an estimated 53% loss in crop yield and crops grown on gravelly, sandy or siltier soils suffered estimated crop yield losses of 25% or less.
  • In addition to yield losses, 95% of farmers said the quality of their crop was negatively impacted.
  • 30% of farmers said they would have increased their drainage infrastructure, including adding tiling and drainage ditches, if they had known how wet 2017 would be.

A wet spring, followed by higher than average precipitation and heavy rainfall events (e.g. the heaviest 1% of all daily rainfall events) during the 2017 growing season (NRCC) led to saturated soils and flooding on many farms throughout New York State (NY). The frequency of heavy rainfall events have already increased by 71% in NY over the last half century (NCA 2014), and this trend is predicted to continue in the future (Wuebbles et al. 2014). Given this, and to get a sense of how farmers were affected by these conditions, as well as how they coped, we surveyed farmers across NY State throughout September of 2017.

For the full article by Shannan Sweet, David Wolfe, and Rebecca Benner please go to:


Paul and Maureen Knapp, Cobblestone Farm, Preble, NY

The NODPA listening Project:
Collecting the Voices of Organic Dairy

During the Annual NODPA Field Days last September, some producers felt that we needed a more direct approach to tell our story to consumers using social media.  So it was exciting to witness the creation of the NODPA Community Connection Committee, made up of NODPA members Liz Pickard, Annie Murray, and Sonja Heyck-Merlin. They have launched NODPA’s Listening Project where they will be capturing “Voices of Organic Dairy” on video and audio recordings.  These will be shared with the public through both NODPA’s and NOFA-NY’s Facebook pages, newsletters, and other social media platforms.  

The first recordings were made on March 6 at NOFA-NY’s Dairy and Field Crop Conference in Liverpool, NY.  Farmers were recorded in brief 3-minute clips, giving consumers an insight into our lives as organic dairy farmers. Read more about this project and some sampling of the quotes, please go to:


Organic Milk Pay, Retail and Feed Prices

Sales of organic dairy fluid products in 2017 were flat compared to 2016. The average increase in sales in previous years had settled around 4% growth. However, total organic whole milk fluid sales for December 2017, 89 million pounds, were up 5.6 percent compared with December 2016, and up 6.2% annually compared with 2016. Unfortunately, total organic fluid sales for December 2017 were lower than December 2016. Total organic whole milk products sales for January 2018, 96 million pounds, were up 11.0 percent compared with January last year. Total organic milk products sales for January 2018, 234   million pounds, were up 2.3 percent compared with January 2017.

Producers report that base pay price in the Northeast is at $25 per hundredweight, and $21 in the West. Average farmgate pay price in the Northeast is $29.50 but will drop in the next few months with the spring deductions, even though the forecasted volumes are low for the ‘Spring Flush’. This compares to $36 per hundredweight in 2017. Upstate Niagara stands out as honoring its commitments to producers maintaining a pay price at around $35. The surplus of organic milk is now being more accurately described as a surplus of skim milk with a good demand for fat. Despite this surplus, the amount of organic product advertising in 2017 and 2018 has dropped extensively, and retail prices have increased in the last few months. This increase in retail price has resulted in a drop in producers’ share of the retail dollar down to 32%, the lowest since 2007.  

There are reports that CROPP will increase its payments for protein and fat this Fall to more accurately reflect market demand plus there are discussions of a cost-plus payments system for organic milk. Whose costs and how that is calculated is not yet known but it would fit in ideally to a form of margin insurance that is available to conventional producers but not to organic operations.

This data reflects the economic reality facing organic dairy producers across the country, with lower pay prices and producers losing their contracts. Reports from the Midwest are that smaller cooperatives and groups are losing their contracts to lower bids, especially for manufacturing milk, as competition increases and inventory of organic cheese grows. Some Midwest organic milk is being replaced by milk trucked from mega-dairies in Texas at prices that are lower than local organic milk despite trucking costs of up to   $5.00 per hundredweight. Processors with direct contracts with producers, for example Sorrento Lactalis, are reportedly dropping producers and seeking cheaper contracts. For the full report please go to:

Pay Price March 2018

SAVE THE DATE for the 18th Annual NODPA Field Days

The NODPA Board and State Representatives have announced that the 18th Annual NODPA Field Days will be held in Maryland for the first time. The 2-day NODPA Field Days will be held on September 27th and 28th in the Fredrick, Maryland area, although the specific location has not yet been identified. We are in the early stage of planning but are hoping to have two farm tours, and to learn much more about the opportunities and challenges of farming in the Mid-Atlantic region. Please stay tuned, there will be much more information in the May NODPA News.  


Added January 29, 2018

Forecast for Organic Dairy
in 2018 & Beyond:
Organic Dairy Producers' Thoughts on the Current State of Organic Dairy

NODPA was formed 17 years ago by organic producers when pay price first became an issue, so what better folks to ask the important questions about the future of the market and organic dairy family farms than organic dairy producers. While there may be a general, underlying trend there is no one reason behind the success and failure of family farms; each are different. We hope that the answers given by these producers will put the current crises in organic dairy in some perspective for each and every family. While the essence of organics is continuous improvement and investment, these next few years will be more like 2010-2013, but with higher costs of inputs. There will be little opportunity for investment in infrastructure and equipment or for improvements in the quality of life. Producers are resilient, but stubbornness must take second place to the reality of losing money over an extended period and the effect on family and quality of life. To read what these producers are thinking please go to:


Friends of the Earth & SumOfUs Producer Survey on the Bayer-Monsanto Merger

The last year and half has brought many changes to corporate control of the farming community. One of the biggest has been the wave of mergers sweeping through the major corporations many of whom producers rely upon for seeds and chemicals. Two major mergers have been completed (Dow & DuPont and Syngenta & ChemChina). One more is still pending: Monsanto and Bayer.

In November, producers met with Department of Justice (DOJ) about the Bayer-Monsanto merger. Those that attended the meeting heard from the DOJ that they are hearing from Bayer and Monsanto that producers are okay with the merger and that farmers don’t mind having limited choices. Producers at the meeting clarified that this is not necessarily the case and that they want choices in terms of seeds and pesticides. DOJ found this information extremely valuable.  As a follow-up, the Friends of the Earth and SumOfUs have put together a producer-specific survey regarding different aspects of the merger. We think the Department of Justice, as well as state attorneys general, will find this information extremely useful in the investigation.

Please help by taking the survey below. It will be used to inform policymakers and law enforcement officials in D.C. and in state capitals about the impact of corporate power on farming.

The survey:

  • is confidential and we will not know any personal information unless you choose to give it to us
  • will take about 12 minutes to complete
  • was designed to help DOJ and agriculture policy makers understand the structure of the market and how farmers make some key decisions

Link to the survey:

Please complete the survey by February 5th.

NOSB: Blast from the Past
& Today's Reality

From the first copy of the NODP News in July 2002 an excerpt from a report on the NOSB by John Cleary who was then the administrator of Vermont Organic Farms LLC (VOF).

“According to the NOP……Certification decisions can only be made based on the standards in the Final Rule, and not based on NOSB recommendations. This places the decision making power over changes to the standards in the hands of the USDA, rather than in the NOSB. While the NOSB was required to accept public comment, the USDA can make these policy decisions without any public input….. policy statements are crafted by NOP staff and are not subject to public comment.  NOSB member, Willie Lockeritz recently resigned from his position due to the frustration of continually having the NOP ignore the work of the NOSB.” 

Fast forward to 2018 and you realize nothing much has changed in the USDA’s approach to organic certification.
On January 25, 2018, the USDA issued a statement that, “Certification of hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic operations is allowed under the USDA organic regulations, and has been since the National Organic Program began.”
This pronouncement was made despite the ambiguous vote on the issue by the NOSB at their Fall 2017 meeting and the 2010 NOSB vote of 14 to 1 recommending that hydroponic production not be allowed to be certified organic. Unfortunately, the USDA National Organic Program did not act on that NOSB recommendation by writing a prohibition of hydroponic production into the organic standards. Even the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA)—the enabling legislation that created the National Organic Program—states that “An organic plan shall contain provisions designed to foster soil fertility, primarily through the management of the organic content of the soil through proper tillage, crop rotation, and manuring.” That statement of OFPA clearly does not allow for hydroponic production to be certified organic.

Some Republicans on the Agriculture Committee are keen to take away the powers and diversity of the NOSB but it seems that the USDA NOP is already doing that month by month. It now dictates their work plan, the agenda of their public meetings, and what they can and cannot discuss at the committee level and in full NOSB sessions. For a more detailed report on the Fall 2017 NOSB meeting, please go to


Organic Milk Pay, Retail & Feed Prices

The supply side of organic milk can be summed up by a quote from Stonyfield Farms in a letter sent to producers: “Unfortunately, at this time, Stonyfield (owned by Lactalis) remains committed to our existing producers, consumers and the New England dairy industry.  Stonyfield is not taking on any new dairy producers through 2018.”  None of the organic milk buyers are taking on new producers; all of them, with the exception of Upstate Niagara, are lowering the farmgate to the high $20’s and base price into the mid $20’s, and DanoneWave is sending 6 month notices of cancellation instead of renewing some contracts. Whole milk sales are expanding at a consistent 6.8% rate although non-fat milk has a drop of 1% in sales, making a 0.2% increase in total sales of organic milk January-October 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

Organic dairy has long known that there is a lack of consistency in implementing the access to pasture regulation and the one time exemption for transitioning operations. The lack of enforcement of these two regulations is part of the cause of the rapid increase in supply when pay prices were high. Large scale dairies, exploiting the loopholes, have rapidly expanded their herds, skewing the supply side of the organic dairy market. Another contributor to a drop in sales of non-fat organic milk product is the rise in sales of plant-based milk, with the Wall Street Journal reporting an increase of 2.9 percent in sales in 2017. The oversupply has been compounded because of a lack of processing facilities to make organic butter, powder and cheese due to an oversupply in the conventional market. For the full report please go to:

Pay Price January 2018

In Memorial

Bruce Drinkman's wife, Mari, passed away this past Christmas Eve. She has had leukemia for the last seven years but for those of you knew her she never let it show. In his NODPA News column Bruce dedicated these words to her:  “She has been a key part in my work to try to provide a better future for farmers. There were many times over the years when she would finish chores so I could make a conference call or make sure that I could get to a meeting whether near or far. She loved being a part of a movement that we could believe in. A movement we must continue. If we do not continue on this journey all of the hard work of people like her will be for naught. I for one will not quit. Her smile may be gone but definitely will not be forgotten.” Our sympathy to Bruce and our thanks for all his great work on behalf of producers.

Added November 20, 2017

Policy – What You as a Producer Can Do

The organic dairy community is a confusing place, especially when we talk about policy and regulation.  For some, the veracity of the organic certification is a matter of whether the certifying entity decides that the operation meets the USDA regulations as the certifier interprets it. For others, the vast majority of organic producers, the organic certification must past the test of basic organic practices (grown in soil) and the reality of farming practices.

Below is an extract from ODairy list serve that illustrates the differences in opinion:

Bruce A. Scholten (BAS) interview with Miles McEvoy (MM) at the 19th organic world congress of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements conference in India:

BAS:For years, I agonized over whether or not Aurora Organic Dairy (AOD in Colorado and Texas) properly grazed their cows. I worry less about Horizon Organic Dairy these days.’
MM:They met the USDA standards.’
BAS:So what about Peter Whoriskey’s articles in WaPo?’
MM:Peter Whoriskey’s articles were based on a drive-by investigation. It wasn’t an audit. His articles are sensationalist.’
BAS:He was in Texas 8 days,’ and didn’t see over 10% of that 10,0000 cow plus herd on pasture.
MM:He was outside 8 days. It wasn’t an audit. Whoriskey’s not a dairy farmer.’

George Siemon, CEO CROPP Cooperative:As far as Aurora goes I have not defended them, but I have strongly defended the NOP verification which is the whole currency of the organic market. Yes, it has flaws, and we all work to keep it improving, but it is our cornerstone. My understanding is Aurora was certified by two different certifiers and had a complete audit by the NOP. Considering that, I believe we need to all defend the organic seal process rather than supporting news headlines that implicate organic dairy as not real. This is not good for the market or for family farms.”

Francis Thicke, NOSB member and organic dairy producer: “I was the one who asked the head of NOP Compliance if they inspected Aurora unannounced, or if they made an appointment. The head of NOP Compliance told me that they made an appointment "because of (NOP) budget constraints." Apparently, the NOP was not so concerned about the budget constraints of the family-scale organic dairy farmers who are fulfilling the grazing rule but are taking a big economic hit because of organic milk surpluses, caused in part by "organic" CAFO dairies.  I agree with Kathie (Arnold) that any grazing organic dairy farmer with a bit of common sense has to be suspicious--and disgusted--that the compelling evidence presented by the Washington Post investigative reporter was brushed aside based on a pre-scheduled audit of Aurora's records. Anyone who believes that Aurora would present records showing noncompliance with the grazing rule during a scheduled appointment with an auditor--regardless of whether or not the records were accurate--is a fool.”

To achieve change that will align with our beliefs as producers we need to influence policy makers in DC. With a new administration in Washington DC and the need for consistent implementation of organic regulation to ensure a fair and level playing field, organic producers need to educate policy makers on the conditions of the organic dairy market. While the policy and regulation issues within the organic dairy community are foremost in our minds, they are of limited interest to most Congressional senators and representatives. Policymakers receive many requests for support for a variety of programs and they respond to constituent requests which have a clear statement of a situation, its implications for their constituents and a way they can help.

To help with that education we provide a summary of the situation in organic dairy plus some talking points on what can be done on the Federal level. NODPA, NOFA NY, MOFGA and other organic organizations will be supplying these talking points directly to their Northeast congressional delegation. Producers can do the same -please go to:

What Producers Can Do

Letter to the Editor

Dear NODPA News Editor:

It is important that clarification be made about the information published recently, both on the Odairy listserv and in the September NODPA News, that stated aflatoxins, particularly gliotoxin, interfere with the Charm tests (Charm Sciences manufactures rapid diagnostic tests across many industries) for antibiotics in milk, specifically tests for sulfonamide drugs. This information is not accurate.
When the situation referenced in that article was unfolding, I contacted the technical services folks at Charm Sciences to discuss more fully the potential for cross-reaction to their sulfonamide assays, the Charm ROSA SULF test primarily used in milk processing plants and the Charm II SULFA test primarily used for confirmation testing in certified laboratories . . .

To read the whole letter please go to:

Letter to the Editor

Closing comments of Francis Thicke at end of his NOSB term. November 2, 2017

“There are two important things that I have learned during my five years on the NOSB. First, I learned that the NOSB review process for materials petitioned for inclusion on the National List is quite rigorous, with Technical Reviews of petitioned materials and careful scrutiny by both NOSB subcommittees and the full board.

The second thing I learned, over time, is that industry has an outsized and growing influence on USDA—and on the NOSB (including through NOSB appointments)—compared to the influence of organic farmers, who started this organic farming movement. Perhaps that is not surprising, given the growing value of organic sales. As organic is becoming a $50 billion business, the industry not only wants a bigger piece of the pie, they seem to want the whole pie.”

To read all of Francis’s comments please go to:

Francis Thicke Comments

Dirt Capital: Promoting Land
Access and Security

Dirt Capital Partners invests in farmland in partnership with farmers throughout the Northeast United States, promoting sustainable farmers’ land access and security. They recognize that farming is risky. Many talented farmers with profitable operations do not qualify for a conventional loan and/or do not have enough capital saved to make a large down payment. The primary alternative is leased land, which is often short-term, insecure and requires permission from landowners to erect basic farm infrastructure. Dirt Capital fills these gaps by facilitating farmland transitions, crafting long-term leases that allow businesses to expand securely, and providing defined pathways to ownership. Dirt Capital worked with Annie and Ryan Murray to obtain their farm. To read more about Dirt Capita common land scenario, approach, legal agreements, partner criteria and a case study, please go to:

Dirt Capital

2017 NODPA Field Days:
Embracing Change in Organic Dairy: Truxton, New York

The Northeast was hit by a serious heat wave leading up to the 17th annual meeting and Field Days with temperatures well into the 90’s. Fortunately, by the first day, the heat had receded, and the skies were gray. The two-day event included two farm tours, engaging speakers, and delicious farm-to-table fare. It was once again an educational, fun, and enriching time for organic dairy farmers to come together, share ideas, swap stories, address the current challenges of the organic dairy industry and develop concrete action plans for the future. To read the full article by Sonja Heyck-Merlin and Liz Pickard please go to:

Field Days Summary

To see a photo display of the 2017 NODPA Field Days please go to the Field Days gallery in Field Day by clicking here.

Pay and Feed
Price Update

Estimated sales of total conventional fluid milk products decreased 8 percent from August 2016 whereas estimated sales of total organic fluid milk products decreased slightly by only 0.2 percent from a year earlier.

USDA AMS reports total organic milk products sales for September 2017 were 208 million pounds, down 4.2 percent from the previous September but up 0.2 percent, January-September 2017 compared with the same period of 2016. Total organic whole milk products sales for September 2017, 83 million pounds, were up 0.4 percent compared with September last year and up 6.5 percent, January-September 2017 compared with the same period of 2016.

Results of the 2016 NASS Certified Organic Survey were recently released. Comparing 2016 results with results from 2008 and 2014, the general trend is that organic dairy farms are producing more organic milk, and average dollar sales by farms have increased. Looking at each of the top 15 states, the number of organic dairy farms from 2014 to 2016 has increased except Minnesota, New Mexico and Iowa, each of which has declined. Comparing 2008 and 2016, there were declines in organic dairy farm numbers in 7 of the top 15 states:  Wisconsin, Texas, Oregon, Vermont, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Iowa. However, in each of those states the average organic milk sales per farm increased from 2008 to 2016.  Several states had no data on the number of cows, volume of milk or dollar sales including New Mexico and Colorado. New York has the largest number of organic dairy farms, 486, closely followed by Wisconsin with 455. Wisconsin had led the survey in farm numbers in 2008 and 2014. California has the highest organic milk sales (volumes and dollars) of any state with 106 farms averaging 473 milking cows per farm at an average pay price of $34.90 per hundred pounds. For more on the Feed and Pay price please go to:

Pay Price Nov 2017

Added September 18, 2017

Organics under Attack

The integrity of the USDA Organic program is currently in a precarious position. It is under attack from Congress, the NOP, and from organic advocates. The organic dairy pay price, and subsequently family farm income, is collapsing under the strain of a surplus brought on by poor supply management by milk buyers, poor implementation of existing regulation by the NOP and certifiers, and the failure of the NOP to pass regulations to uphold the integrity of the organic standards. The unique process of organic certification that has held consumer confidence and allowed organic products to stand out in the marketplace is also under attack and the results could well be more long-term and devastating than a drop in pay price.

The threats come from three distinct areas: the 2018 Farm Bill; from the bureaucratic inertia at the NOP; and by single-issue organic advocates who are looking to bypass the established process and change regulations through Congressional action. This article will explore how and why these areas of threat are so important because the defense of organic integrity and the changes to Federal regulations happen in many different ways and we all need to understand how an action in one area will affect a possible solution in another. To read the full article please go to:

Organics Under Attack


By Mary-Howell Martens, Lakeview Organic Grain

Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals produced by certain types of fungi that grow on plant material, both in the field or in storage. Mycotoxins are a common problem worldwide, indeed, it is estimated that globally, over 25% of field crops are affected annually with mycotoxins. In Europe, Napoleon’s defeat in Russia may not have been due as much to cold or military skill, but rather to mycotoxin-contaminated grain fed to horses and men.

At a recent meeting with other feed mill operators and regulators, mycotoxins are definitely on everyone’s mind, as a feed and food hazard that is increasing with changing weather patterns and especially with the amount of distillers’ grain from ethanol production that is fed on conventional dairies.  Mycotoxin levels can be significantly concentrated and increased in distillers’ grain.  Conventional dairy farmers are also concerned about all the corn for silage that was planted late and ‘mudded in’. To read the whole article please go to:

Mycotoxin Alert 2017

What is the Right Herd Size for Your Farm?

By Sarah Flack

What is the right number of cows for the farm?  And how would that change if the herd was 100% grass-fed with a milking parlor?  What if instead of going grass-fed, the herd continues to get some grain, and robots milked the cows?  What about just investing in a better grazing system and soil amendments to produce more high-quality pasture and forage on the current land base?  Is it better to buy the haying equipment or continue to have harvesting done by custom operators and buy some bales when needed? To find out some of the answers please go to:

Right Herd Size

An Interview with Neal Kinsey

By Sonja Heyck-Merlin

Neal Kinsey, internationally known expert on soil fertility management and the owner of Kinsey Agricultural Services, will be presenting at the 17th Annual NODPA Field Days on September 28 & 29, 2017 in Truxton, NY, and ahead of the NODPA Field Days, we wanted everyone to learn more about Neal via the following interview, which is based on questions submitted by a number of organic dairy farmers.

Please introduce yourself:
I was born on a farm in southeast Missouri in the same county where I currently live. I am the eldest of 12 children, and I spent my childhood with my grandfather while my father served in the military. Once my father came home he also started farming. I am married with two daughters. My business, Kinsey Agricultural Services, was launched as a part-time enterprise in 1973. By 1976, I had grown my business enough to pursue it full-time. What we do at Kinsey Ag. is advise in terms of soil fertility. We sell advice, not products.

To read the full interview please go to:

Neal Kinsey Interview

Pay and Feed
Price Update

As pay price tumbles, losing between $3-10 per hundred pounds compared to 2016, fluid milk sales continue to grow as does the world-wide demand for organic milk powder. Organic exports are up this year on last, from $4 million to $16 million. Demand for organic fluid milk shows no signs of slowing down. The USDA AMS national data reports total organic milk products’ sales for June 2017 were 208 million pounds, down 1.7% from the previous June 2016. Overall, the January-June 2017 sales are up 0.8% over the previous January-June 2016. Total organic whole milk products’ sales for June 2017 were up 4% over June 2016. This resulted in 7.7% increase in sales of organic whole milk for the first half of 2017, over sales in the same period of 2016.

Organic Valley and Maple Hill Creamery, both of which have reduced pay price and stopped taking on transitioning producers, are launching a new Grass-Fed label, apparently after scrapping the work with the American Grassfed Association. The announcement was made in Washington DC and at Expo East in Maryland.  NOFA-NY and PCO are part of the collaboration since they both currently offer a proven and successful Organic Grass-Fed Certification Program.  This fall, more information will be released regarding the certification program and certifying-body accreditation allowing all accredited organic certifiers the opportunity to certify producers to this program. OV had a grassmilk call recently where ALL grassmilk producers were told that they will be required to certify to the “new” Grassfed organic standards, with the obligatory annual third party inspections by January 2018. There are many questions left unanswered and only a few months to complete the standards and ensure accountability. The cynical reader may see this as a way to decrease the Grassfed pool of milk which is currently losing money. For more on the Feed and Pay price please go to:

Pay Price September

Added August 25, 2017

Support the Beyond Pesticides Action Alert: Insist that the organic label be regulated on the basis of law, not whim!

Consumers of organic food expect a clear set of production standards that are enforced with a rigorous system of inspection and certification. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) is currently undermining this central organic principle. During a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) webinar, NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy extolled the new “flexibility” of his program in allowing organic certification of operations not permitted by regulations. Although the webinar focused on the program’s allowance of hydroponics, Mr. McEvoy’s comments apply to a wide variety of permitted practices for which USDA has yet to approve standards.

Tell the NOSB, NOP, Secretary of Agriculture, and your Congressional delegation that organic certification must be based on law, not the arbitrary judgment of the Deputy Administrator.

Please go to:


No Organic Checkoff:
An open letter from The No Organic Checkoff Coalition to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Dear Secretary Purdue,

We are writing this letter to you to express the lack of support that organically certified producers and businesses have for the Organic Research, Promotion, and Information Order (organic checkoff) under the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. Within the next few months the bond that was required from the Organic Trade Association (OTA) to fund the USDA staff time to process and develop this proposed new regulation from their proposal for an organic checkoff will end. We ask that you take this opportunity to determine that the proposed Order is not “in conformity with the terms, conditions, and requirements of this [the Act]” and not issue a final Order or proceed to a referendum. It would divide rather than unite organic farmers and handlers, ignite a firestorm of adverse media coverage and injure the organic brand in the process, defeating the purpose of an organic checkoff in the first place. Please go to:

Full Letter

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Fall Meeting, October, 2017

While most federal committees are set up to advise the leaders of different agencies, the NOSB is unique in so far as its role of making recommendations the Secretary of Agriculture is written into the regulation that established the National Organic Program (NOP), by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). In the last few years, the NOSB’s role and its importance in the process of rulemaking, has been challenged. At the last NOSB meeting, the Consumer Union made the following comment: “The USDA Organic label communicates to consumers that the food was produced on a farm that adheres to a comprehensive set of government standards designed to support a system of sustainable agriculture. The integrity of the organic label is worth protecting and, where warranted, its standards should be improved. This is why the work of the NOSB is so important.”  Please go to:

NOSB Fall Meeting

Added May 31, 2017

CowSignals: A Successful Approach
to Putting the Focus on Barn Design and Management on the Cow

One of the best pieces of advice I had from an old Yorkshire, England farmer when I was starting out in farming 47 years ago, was “It is the eye of the farmer that fattens the beast.” With the usual self-righteousness of youth, I dismissed that advice in favor of the benefits of free stall farms with electronic feeders and zero-grazing of grass to save the pasture from being poached. In the age of robotic milking, when we have a full download of cow information on our cell phones and cow pedometers that will tell us how far our cows have travelled in a day, the low stress management system known as CowSignals reintroduces the skills of observation and analysis of the dairy herd by the farmer. These skills were once inherited and are now taught with a more formal approach under the CowSignals program. Jack Rodenburg will be the keynote speaker at the 17th Annual NODPA Field Days where he will lead a lively, hands-on session on CowSignals training. For more details on the program please read the full article by Jack Rodenburg and Joep Driessen at:


Is my milk organic?

The egregious abuses of the organic certification process, with the access to pasture regulation and the importation of organic grain, were again part of an expose by the national media. While the Organic Trade Association, the USDA, and multinational conglomerates have been pushing equivalence agreements and recognition of government accreditation with an increasing number of individual countries and the European Union, they have failed to invest in systems to protect the integrity of the organic seal. Their boasts about the growth of organic sales from $13 billion in 2005 to $43 billion in 2015, which includes $1.2 billion in imports, fail to take into account the inadequate increase in support staff to maintain the integrity of the seal. There are only ten employees within the NOP Compliance & Enforcement Division ensuring compliance from eighty-two certifiers, 61,682 certified entities and $43 billion dollars in organic sales. The NOP budget has been level funded since 2014 at $9 million, which is 0.021% of organic sales. Yet they are still expanding international equivalency agreements. This rookie business mistake, of outgrowing your support infrastructure, has been instrumental in undermining the US organic producers market and threatens the long-term consumer belief in the organic seal.

If NOP is not policing organic integrity, then who will? It has become increasingly obvious that the NOP is not up to the job of policing certifiers nationally and internationally, as demonstrated by these egregious mistakes made repeatedly by the State of Colorado and importers. Do state certifiers have the capacity and will to enforce standards in the face of political and economic pressure? Experience shows that is not the case. NOP has repeatedly ignored fully implementing continuous oversight of their accreditation activities. The trade organizations do not want the job of policing their members. They haven’t come out and condemned those members that obviously are breaking the rules.

The certifier is the first line of defense but their capacity and interpretation of regulations vary dramatically in some cases. Following NOP approval, some certifiers allow porches for poultry; others don’t. Some certifiers allow hydroponics; others don’t. Certifiers interpret the Origin of Livestock very differently which allows a continuous transition in the expansion of organic dairy herds. Do we need a scorecard of certifiers that the consumer can check on and a requirement that the name of the certifier is on the label? There needs to be a change in NOP priorities in order for them to do the accreditation work. If they don’t, the public and producers will move onto other certifications.


The words of NODPA President and organic dairy farmer in “I am an organic dairy farmer and I want to tell my story,’ very clearly tells the consumer how they can trust organic and where producers stand.


Record retail sales of organic milk as pay price drops

The latest USDA AMS national data reports total organic milk products sales for March 2017 were 231 million pounds, up 8% from the previous March.  January-March 2017 sales are up 2.7% from January-March 2016. Total organic whole milk products sales for March 2017, 89 million pounds, were up 17.4% compared with March last year and up 10.6%, January-March compared with the same period of 2016.

Pay prices are tumbling and all transitioning dairies are being told to wait for a year before they can transition. Organic Valley announced further drops in price with their $1/cwt “inventory management deduction” that went into effect May 1st, and will continue “until conditions warrant otherwise.”  This is on top of the $1 deduction for the spring flush milk surplus in May, June and July and the $2/cwt price reduction last year. The Organic Valley quota which is based on the active base, except for those producing less than 270,000 pounds, grassmilk producers and ‘foundational loads’, went into effect 3/1/17, with the $20 deduct for any milk over the quota volume.  In addition, Organic Valley “strongly request(s)” that members voluntarily reduce production.  Some OV producer owners are now reflecting back on Organic Valley’s knowingly taking on another 400 new members a couple years ago despite record low conventional milk prices that were forecast to continue for the long term.  Organic Valley has also posted a $9.3 million loss on an increase in sales of 5.3% for their first quarter.

Other buyers in the northeast are dropping pay price, including Upstate which has dropped its Market Adjustment Premium by $2 as of April 1st. Maple Hill has dropped its price by $2 for May & June milk.  Maple Hill is giving financial incentives to its producers to reduce milk with payments to cull cows, raise calves on cows, and other production practices.  DanoneWave (WhiteWave/Horizon) has asked for a volume reduction of 3-4% and has dropped its pay price.  We saw this in 2009, and the same is happening again. The answer has always been more attention to supply management which producers have been requesting for the last ten years, rather than rapidly expanding gross sales. DanoneWave appears to have paid better attention to that than CROPP. For more details and charts please go to:

Feed & Payprice May

Anatomy of a Rare, or perhaps not so Rare, Drought in New York

It is clear from the results of this informal Extension survey that NY farmers were seriously affected by the short-term drought that occurred in the summer of 2016. The severely hot, dry, sunny weather stressed many crops and led to extensive crop yield loss due to farmers’ lack of irrigation equipment, water, and time. Most of the farmers surveyed said they would like better seasonal weather forecasting so they could begin taking steps earlier in the season to prepare for drought. Many farmers indicated that they are highly motivated to expand irrigation capacity, but finding the capital to do this is a major constraint.

Farmer adaptation could be facilitated by policies that reduced the investment risk for farmers, such as low-cost loans. Since climate projections indicate this type of drought will likely occur more frequently in the Northeast in the future, it is important to understand how famers can adapt and better prepare for future drought risk, as well as to understand what organizations such as Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension can do to provide the help farmers need to sustain both farm productivity and water resources across NY State. Dr. David Wolfe, co-author of this report, will focus on how farmers can be better prepared as climate changes when he speaks at the 17th Annual NODPA Field Days. To read the full report, please go to:


Organic Farmers, Consumers Call for USDA to Reject Organic Checkoff with comments to USDA

The No Organic Checkoff Coalition submitted to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA) a list of 1,888 signatories to a petition urging the agency to reject a proposal to create a new “research and promotion” program, also called an organic checkoff program. The Coalition also submitted a letter opposing the checkoff signed by more than 60 organic organizations asking for the USDA to end the checkoff proposal. Two Coalition partners submitted petitions with a total of 19,592 signatures to stop the checkoff. The coalition represents 31 organizations and more than 6,000 organic farmers from the Western, Midwestern, and Eastern United States.

NODPA submitted over 17 pages of comments  in opposition to the proposed organic checkoff under the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996 (the Act) and many other organizations submitted detailed comments against the proposed rule.  Over 2000 individuals have written unique individualized letters to the USDA documenting why they oppose the checkoff.
All organic producers need to recognize that as soon as an organic checkoff is established, we will lose the ability to be exempt from paying into checkoffs. The choice would be either paying into an organic checkoff or a conventional one.

The timeline for any decision by USDA on what happens with the organic checkoff is unpredictable. The only prediction is that a decision to move forward or not will take the USDA many months, perhaps over a year to complete the process. We will keep everyone updated on the process and subsequent actions and in the interim, folks can find more information at  


Added April 11, 2017

Federal Mandated Checkoff:

No more procrastinating –
we need your comment now

Stop the organic check off program (a Tax) by commenting on the Proposed Rule before April 19th

The OTA’s proposed organic checkoff now translated into a Proposed Rule by USDA is impractical, invasive, bureaucratic, inequitable, undemocratic and ineffective. Comment now to stop the process and the historic division of the organic community. OTA must withdraw their divisive proposal now so we can all work together to protect and grow organic in these tough political times.

The following bulleted points highlight the problems with this rule and can be used in your comments: 

  • Tell USDA you will vote against the checkoff if there is a referendum.
  • One vote per certificate holder - Producers will have to pay a poll tax to qualify to vote – assess all certificate holders to give everyone a vote.
  • You have no confidence in the management, transparency and effectiveness of checkoff programs - putting the word “Organic” in the title of the program does not change the historic and well documented restrictive guidelines, heavy bureaucracy, and lack of accountability and cost of administration of these programs.
  • I think organic is the gold standard and want to say that – the checkoff will not be allowed to say it for me.
  • The method of assessment does not reflect the economics of organic family farms – the definition of organic inputs do not reflect organic production methods, which are based on feeding the soil and building the nutrient value of the soil to increase yield and profitability, not buying inputs.
  • The payment of assessment will not be equal and fair across the organic supply chain - Walmart will not pay any assessments – their co-packers will have to, which will drive down the price paid to producers as retailers have more leverage over price in the market.
  • USDA use of the term ‘de minimis quantity of the commodity’ to exclude 76% of organically certified producers and 12% of the dollar value of organic production is unacceptable.
  • I support the continuation of the exemption for organic producers and handlers that are part of a conventional checkoff – establishing an organic checkoff will end that exemption – I trust organic certificate holders to invest their own money in programs to promote agricultural research and a fair pay price for producers and handlers that will increase acreage under organic production.


Submit Online:  (link to Federal comment site)

Mail comments:
Promotion & Economics Div., Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Rm 1406-S, Stop 0244, Washington, D.C. 20250-0244

Fax comments: (202) 205-2800

For analysis on the organic checkoff, please go to:


For ideas on raising money for organic research, please go to:

Alternatives to a Check-off for generating research dollars 2017.pdf

Liana Hoodes blog on the organic checkoff:

Liana Hoodes checkoff Blog.pdf

For more on the organic checkoff:

Danone acquisition of WhiteWave
moves forward without Stonyfield

NODPA News, January 2017:

If Danone is required to sell off their subsidiary, Stonyfield Yogurt and retail milk brands, to satisfy the Justice Department approval of their acquisition of WhiteWave, Organic Valley Fresh or some similar CROPP joint venture would be ideally positioned to purchase the brand. This would expand their retail presence and their product mix while securing a market for their producers, particularly those in New England and the Northeast.”

From the DOJ Press release, 4/3/2017:

“The Department of Justice announced today that it will require Danone S.A. to divest Danone’s Stonyfield Farms business in order for Danone to proceed with its $12.5 billion acquisition of The WhiteWave Foods Company Inc. “The proposed acquisition would have blunted competition between the top two purchasers of raw organic milk in the Northeast and the producers of the three leading brands of organic milk in the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Today’s proposed settlement will ensure competitive marketplaces for both farmers in the northeast that sell raw organic milk and consumers who purchase fluid organic milk in stores nationwide.” 

In the NODPA News November 2016 issue, we did an in depth study and analysis of the proposed acquisition by Danone of White Wave. (LINK to article) In that article and in conversations with the Department of Justice, industry leaders, investor groups and producers we laid out the problem and possible solutions to the reduction of competition between the two leading buyers and top brands in the markets for raw and fluid organic milk, potentially harming dairy farmers in the Northeast and U.S. consumers of fluid organic milk. Working with the Cornucopia Institute and others, the case was made on the effect of the acquisition resulting in a landmark decision about the effect on producers and consumers of the consolidation of the organic industry.  

In looking at the buyers for Stonyfield, Dean’s name has obviously been mentioned as has Uniliver (Ben & Jerry’s), General Mills, Aurora Dairy Group, Chobani and PepsiCo as it is a valuable entry point into organic dairy with an established market and a dedicated supply.

Any prospective buyer will need to identify what supply agreements they intend to enter into once they own Stonyfield. The supply agreement with CROPP has approximately three years to run and the assumption is that any buyer will continue to honor that agreement. In the best possible case, in the future Stonyfield will expand its own pool of milk and increase the number of buyers in the Northeast to three rather than the two, which will be the best interpretation of the DOJ’s ruling. Stonyfield also has the option of working with other smaller buyers and Dairy Marketing Services to source their long term supply. A second option will be to continue with CROPP as their main supplier and maintain the status–quo for the foreseeable future. Whatever way it goes, the DOJ ruling is a good solution for organic dairy producers as it is an opportunity to expand competition for organic farmgate milk and deprive Danone/WhiteWave from any intimidation of CROPP by holding supply contracts as leverage for their cooperation on the supply side and in the organic consumer market. 

For the full DOJ press release please go to:

Dairy Succession Efforts
get Boost from Grant

Help is available for dairy farmers! With support from the Keep Local Farms Fund of the New England Dairy Promotion Board, Land For Good is offering farm transfer planning and succession advising to commercial, cow milk dairy farms at reduced or no cost, for a limited time. Land For Good is a nonprofit organization providing land access, tenure, and transfer services throughout New England. We maintain a network of state-based Field Agents who work with farmers through a customized, personalized, team-based approach to farm succession and transfer planning. We can:

  • Provide information and resources to get started
  • Find appropriate advisors and coordinate your team
  • Help you navigate your farm transfer planning process.

For more information, visit our website at, contact us at, or call 603-357-1600.

Recent Odairy Discussions

By Liz Baldwin – NODPA President

A producer asked the group for suggestions to control lice in his herd.  Several farmers suggested feeding Agri-Dynamics’ “Flies Be Gone’. Other recommendations included Crystal Creek’s No-Fly, Ectophyte, Sulphur powder, powdered tobacco, and PyGanic.  It should be noted that there was some confusion over whether PyGanic is still allowed for use on livestock; different certifiers may have different interpretations.  So check with your certifier.  One person on the list quoted a NYS IPM Guide for Organic Dairies stating, “PyGanic is the most effective OMRI-approved pesticide available for use against lice in organic production.”  In all the external treatments, producers were reminded that there must be a second treatment, 10 to 14 days after the first, to kill the newly hatched lice. For more excerpts from the ODairy listserve please go to:


Join the active and informative email list serve by going to:   

Added March 23, 2017

Is there a future in Organic Dairy?

There are many different reasons why producers enter organic dairy and each farm family has different priorities within their mission statement and family goals. A high priority for every producer is economic sustainability. A sustainable pay price is needed to keep all committed farm families in business and although not a ‘birth right,’ producers should have a ‘living wage’ just as other working folks have a minimum wage or are fairly compensated for their labor and capital investment. If that doesn’t happen we will have the same situation that exists in the conventional market, relying on larger operations that have the economies of scale and financial resources to sustain themselves with all the peaks and troughs of the market. While we are currently in one of those troughs for pay price and organic milk utilization created by oversupply, we need to look at historical data to analyze the potential for the future. The great long team work that Bob Parsons and his colleagues, including Lisa McCrory, have done over the last decade serves us well for managing our future better. Bob has created years of data that show the relationship between management and profitability, highlighting the higher costs of organic production that require higher pay prices (not premiums) to remain sustainable with a reasonable lifestyle.

To read in more detail Bob’s summary and analyses of the data please go to:

Organic Dairy Farm Profitability in 2015

Difficult Respiratory Cases in the
Bovine and their Treatment with Western Herbal Medicines

By Cynthia J. Lankenau, DVM

“Herbal medicines provide such a multi-pronged approach to disease that in these difficult to treat diseases, herbal medicine shines as the therapeutic modality.
Bovine Respiratory diseases initially presents as an acute viral invasion.  Energetically this can present as invading ‘Cold’ pathogen that creates severe stagnation.  If the animal has an underlying immune deficiency, a stressed animal from shipping or a calf with minimal colostrum, this can rapidly develop into significant phlegm, and more stagnation with then secondary heat; (translated as an initial viral infection, leading to a bacterial infection).”
To read all of Dr. Lankenau’s article, please go to:


Feed and Pay Prices March 2016

The dismal state of the organic market has many organic dairy and transitional producers questioning their future. Despite rising retail sales, admittedly only averaging 5.7% over all fat levels, we are in a supply. While this surplus is similar to the 2009 situation, there are different characteristics. Principally, the differences are the increase in sales of whole milk over non-fat products, the increased consumer popularity of Grassfed milk, the availability of organic processing capacity, and the increased volume of milk that has to be absorbed by a conventional market in surplus. With the surplus comes a drop in pay price and restrictions on volume, either voluntarily or, as is the case with CROPP, imposition of a $20 deduction per cwt for milk over the active quota. Producers’ responses will be to cut back on expansion plans, decrease cow numbers, rear fewer replacements, feed less grain and/or lengthen the calving dates. At the same time that producers are being asked to cut back production, the largest, vertically integrated organic dairy (Aurora Dairy) is actively expanding production and processing ability.  Manufacturers that require organic dairy ingredient are looking to source their own supply, and we have the brand leader of organic milk (WhiteWave/Horizon) being acquired by the brand leader of organic yogurt (Danone/ Stonyfield). The number of buyers of organic milk is shrinking rapidly and any leverage to affect their pay price that producers may have had in the past has disappeared.  A producer can’t move to another buyer if there are no active buyers in the region. Dairies cannot transition if there are no buyers looking for more milk.

For more on Feed and Pay price plus many charts of historical data, please go to:

Feed/Payprice March

Save the Date
for the 2017 NODPA Field Days

2017 NODPA Field Days, September 28 & 29, 2017 at the Truxton Community Center, Truxton, NY

The NODPA Board of Directors and State Representatives have selected centrally located Truxton, NY as the site for the 17th Annual NODPA Field Days. This central New York location will be ideal driving distance for farmers coming from New England, New York and Pennsylvania.

Planning for the educational program is just getting started but we are already planning the Farm Tour to Twin Oaks Dairy, the Truxton, NY-based dairy farm owned and operated by the Arnold family. Kirk Arnold, NODPA Board of Directors’ Vice President, and Kathie Arnold, his mother and a founding member of NODPA, will lead the tour of their farm and newly constructed 3-row, 136 freestall barn with a double 12 rapid exit parallel Delaval parlor. This new construction features Dairy Master alley scrapers, drive-through feeding with headlocks and slant bars, Lely Juno feed pusher robot, DCC waterbeds, automated curtains by Seneca Dairy Systems, a 40x40 bedpack for special needs cows, insulated cathedral ceiling, ventilation chimneys, and a 57 kW solar system. As with all of the NODPA Field Days farm tours, this one promises to be informative and full of innovative practices.

Opportunities to sponsor and support this event are available, along with trade show information, and we will be sending it out soon and posting it on our website shortly. Contact Nora Owens, at, or 413-772-0444, if you have questions, want to get involved or would like more information. So, get out your calendars and SAVE THE DATES for the 17th Annual NODPA Field Days, and look for full program information in the May NODPA News. 

Added February 15, 2017

Resilient Farming for a Changing Climate

Extreme weather events and conditions are now the new normal, and as farmers, our challenge is increasingly to learn how to adapt, be more resilient, and be as agile as possible in our response. MORE >

Organic Milk Pay, Feed and Retail Price
Update for January 2017

Sales of organic fluid milk increased by four percent a year through October 2015-October 2016, compared to the same period in 2014-2015. This is compared to zero growth in sales for the same period 2013-2014 compared to 2014-2015. The average retail price for organic half gallons in 2016 was $3.96 compared to $3.90 in 2015. MORE >

Highlights of the NOSB Meeting
St. Louis, MO - November 16 to 18, 2016

The USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met for its Fall Meeting Nov 16 -18th, 2016 in St. Louis, MO. The Agenda was packed full with many presentations including the: NOP Update, National List Materials Update, National Organic Program Peer Review Report and NOP Response, and the State of Organic Seed Report. More >

When Correcting Your Soil
Costs Too Much

What good is a soil test if it costs too much to follow
the advice given? More often than not, this is a major complaint concerning fertilizer requirements, even from those who believe they should follow the recommended advice as closely as possible. Learn more >

Major farm groups to Trump:
Adopt GIPSA rules

Politics aside, the best reason of all to keep GIPSA’s proposed Farmer Fair Practices Rules: It’s the right thing to do for farmers, ranchers, and all Americans who believe in fair play and open, transparent markets. MORE >

The American Grassfed Association Grassfed Dairy Standard to be launched February 8th, 2017

The American Grassfed Association’s (AGA) Board of Directors has given final approval to the new AGA Grassfed Dairy Standard. More than a year in development, the standard is the result of the work of a diverse group of stakeholders. MORE >

FYI: Useful Information
for Organic Dairy Farmers

Ag census, surveys, cost share programs and more >

Added November 15, 2016

Danone Announces the Purchase of WhiteWave Foods: How this will impact Organic Dairy Farmers in the Northeast?

On July 7, 2016, Danone announced that it will buy WhiteWave Foods in a deal worth $12.5 billion in cash and a $34 million golden parachute to the WhiteWave CEO, Greg Engles. Danone merging with WhiteWave will make Danone one of the top 15 food and beverage producers in the US. Danone has more than one-third (33.7 percent) of U.S. yogurt sales in 2015, considerably higher than its nearest rival, General Mills, which has 25.3 percent of the market. Though a smaller portion of the market, WhiteWave’s Horizon and Wallaby organic yogurt brands compete with Danone’s Stonyfield organic yogurts. Stonyfield makes the number-one selling brand of organic yogurt and the number-three, overall, yogurt brand in the United States, according to Fortune magazine. The companies are projecting $300 million in synergies by 2020. Cecile Canais, chief financial officer of Danone, said the company is projecting $300 million in synergies on an annual basis. For the complete article please go to:


Statement of the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing, Inc. (OFARM) to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)

The U.S. organic market has been deluged with imports of organic corn and soybeans that are highly suspect as to their organic integrity.

Current USDA FAS GATS data shows that Turkey and Ukraine, up until last year, as being top exporters of organic corn and soybeans to the U.S. in 2016 (July, Turkey, 930,000 bushels of corn, 333,265 bushels of soybeans; August, Turkey 1,178,308 bushels of corn, 215,210 bushels of soybeans) This trend is on pace to be almost a million bushels of corn into the U.S. per month in 2016.

The rise of imports from Turkey especially raises concern as have imports from the Ukraine and Romania. A 2016 report by USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service summarized the potential for fraudulent activity in the Turkish organic sector: For the complete article please go to:


Pay and Feed Price Update

Its official – we are in a surplus supply situation and CROPP is selling organic milk into the conventional market. George Siemon posted on Odairy list serve: “There is an oversupply in most of the nation, and our cooperative for one is selling milk conventionally rather than lowering the target price so that we protect the long-term organic price.” Pay price has been hit though with both CROPP and WhiteWave taking up to two dollars off the Market Adjustment Premium (MAP) which doesn’t affect the base price but is significant as we enter into the winter months. Pay price must reflect costs of production, a fair wage for the managers of the operation (living expenses), and a return on investment so that there can be re-investment in the operation or an ability to service debt. Pay price should control supply and growth especially at this moment when dairy manufacturers want organic milk and dairy products. If it doesn’t, we are another large step down the conventional road where buyers will be driving down the pay price while pushing for economies of scale that will make organic dairy nonviable in New England and the Northeast.

George Siemon was very clear about the direction that he is taking CROPP, the largest purchaser and wholesaler of organic milk in the country. On NODPA’s Odairy listserv, he said “We set out to bring organic into the food system, and we have succeeded…. I hope we all agree that this is good news for family farms. Now, the real challenge is how to maintain the farmer pay price and to ensure integrity at all levels.”  He is also quoted in a Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota article on 10/29/16, in which he said that he largely agrees with its accuracy, as saying, “Our job is not to increase our own profits, it’s to do organics right,” adding that, “General Mills’ job is to grow demand.” The conventional companies expect that with increased volume, their raw ingredients (organic milk) will become cheaper. Foreign countries see the large US organic market as very attractive, especially those countries with lower costs of production. This is very evident in the organic grain and feed market which is now overrun with cheap imports. For more on feed and pay price plus charts please go to:

November feed and pay price update

It’s November: Time for the Annual NODPA Fund Drive

Has your NODPA Fund Drive letter arrived? When it does, we hope you will consider all the ways NODPA works for Organic Dairy farm families and those who support the industry, and send in your annual contribution. If you already support NODPA through the monthly Milk Check Assignment or during NODPA’s Field Days, we say thanks!

“Many organic dairy farmers already support NODPA with their monthly Milk Check Assignment, and that continues to be a great way to support NODPA. We also offer Business Memberships,” said Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director, “and applications for both can be found on our website,” “If you didn’t receive a letter in the mail or have misplaced it, you can complete and send in the contribution form. You can also donate online at," said Nora Owens, NODPA Fundraising Campaign Coordinator. And, if you have questions or need assistance, please give Nora a call at 413-772-0444 or email her at Your generous financial support will help NODPA continue to provide the valuable resources and services that you have come to depend on, so please take a moment and send in your pledge today.

Learn more about our fund drive >

The 16th Annual NODPA Field Days
The Future of Organic Dairy Farming: Regenerate, Renew, Refresh

Gray and rainy weather conditions are usually unwelcome at most gatherings but for the 16th Annual NODPA Field Days it meant that more farmers were able to attend, and they certainly did. Stakeholders of the organic milk industry gathered together in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania on September 29th-30th. The conference was held at the Chambersburg Mennonite Church.

The 100+ attendees were a diverse group: a multitude of organic dairy farm families (including the Booijinks, a couple from Ontario, Canada who own and operate Jamink Farm, the November NODPA News’ featured farm), processors, Extension Agents, certifiers, non-profits, agricultural consultants, product dealers, journalists, a goat milk producer, and some aspiring dairy families.  We were warmly received by the Chambersburg Mennonite Church community whose ample meeting space and well-equipped kitchen proved an exceptional venue. Attendees heard from a diverse group of presenters on topics that are important to the organic dairy industry; participated in a robust trade show; participated in an informative tour of Hamilton Heights Farm, owned and operated by Cliff and Maggie Hawbaker and their family; and had plenty of time to visit catch up with old friends and make new ones.

Field Days Review >

Field Days Photo Gallery >

NODPA Featured in the Food Tank and
James Beard Foundation’s 3rd Annual Good Food Guide

NODPA is honored to announce that it has been included in the 3rd Annual Good Food Guide published by the Food Tank and the James Beard Foundation. The guide features 1,000 nonprofit organizations that are creating a better food system across the United States.

Learn more >

Added September 13, 2016

Organic Milk Pay, Retail and Feed price update for September 2016

Following some months in 2015 when organic milk production seemed to have slowed, or even declined, 2016 has been a good year for growth in production. Recent efforts to increase numbers of organic dairy producers, by some processors, are now generating increased organic milk flows. NOFA-NY LLC is currently working with the largest group of transitioning farms since the rule change which mandated 100% organic feed for a full year to transition. They currently certify 312 dairy operations, 22 of which are grass-fed certified as well. Transition numbers are continually growing, with 55 farms in transition and an additional 13 farms looking to bring in organic animals to start shipping organic milk. Grass-fed is on the rise too, with nine farms pending certification through NOFA-NY. AMS reports total organic milk products’ retail sales for June 2016 of 217 million pounds, were up 6.7% from June 2015, and up 5.6% from January through June, compared with the same months of 2015. Total organic whole milk products retail fluid sales for June 2016, 78 million pounds, were up 16.2% compared with June last year and up 16.3% January through June compared with the same months of 2015. For the complete article please go to:

September feed and pay prices

Organic Checkoff Update

Letter from the No Organic Checkoff Coalition to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Opposing OTA’s most recent Proposal

Our petition opposing the organic checkoff now has 1762 signatures, more than OTA’s one supporting it. OTA’s slogan is that they can make the much-disparaged checkoff program work for organic as a once-in-a-lifetime multi-commodity program. The No Organic Checkoff Coalition, including 25 organic farmer organizations and businesses, will continue to monitor the progress of the USDA process. For more information please go to:

Portable Parlors, Robots & Challenges Managing Dairy Animal Flow in Grazing Systems

By Sarah Flack, Sarah Flack Consulting

“Managing a grazing system for dairy animals requires that they move from pasture to get milked, and then back to pasture multiple times each day. This requires more planning for lanes and fence locations than on a beef or sheep farm, where the herd is simply moved from one paddock to another and may not return to the barn during the entire grazing season.  Dairy grazing systems also require that the farm has enough pasture land within reasonable walking distance of the milking facility.  If the parlor can be portable, there is more flexibility on the location of the grazing land; but if the milking facility is in a fixed location, the grazing system design requires some careful planning in order for it to work well.” For the complete article please go to:

Portable parlors

And, don’t forget Sarah’s new book: The Art and Science of Grazing, How Grass Farmers Can Create Sustainable Systems for Healthy Animals and Farm Ecosystems.  Please go to:

Added July 26, 2016

Organic Checkoff Update:

Letter from the No Organic Checkoff Coalition to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Opposing OTA’s most recent Proposal

Our petition opposing the organic checkoff now has 1522 signatures, more than OTA’s one supporting it. OTA’s slogan is that they can make the much-disparaged checkoff program work for organic as a once-in-a-lifetime multi-commodity program.
They said “trust us” while they secretly negotiated a GMO labelling Bill that is worthless. They are saying “trust us” as they set up a transition label for organic that will saturate the market and undermine producers’ pay price.
Experience tells us that with OTA, its business as usual in Congress and the countryside. When OTA says, “trust us,” question their track record. It’s time for the OTA to withdraw their proposal for an organic checkoff before they, once again, split the organic community.

The No Organic Checkoff Coalition, representing 1522 (as of 7-25-16) signatories opposed to an organic checkoff, including 25 organic farmer organizations and businesses, sent a letter to USDA AMS responding to the recently revised Organic Trade Association (OTA) Proposal submitted May 3, 2016.  The revised proposal discusses ideas for a new industry-funded promotion, research and information order for organic products, which would be developed under the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996. To read the complete letter which lays out the argument against an organic checkoff very clearly please go to:


2016 Field Days

The Future of Organic Dairy Farming: Regenerate, Renew, Refresh

2016 NODPA Field Days: September 29 & 30, 2016 - Chambersburg Mennonite Church, Chambersburg, PA

The 2016 NODPA Field Days, The Future of Organic Dairy Farming: Regenerate, Renew, Refresh, will focus on regenerating our soil, renewing our farms’ infrastructures, and refreshing ourselves in order for our farms and families to thrive into the future.

There will be workshops focused on the soil: Managing for Milk Production per Acre; renewing the farm’s infrastructure: Milking System Tune-Ups; the growing support and infrastructure for the grass-fed milk market, along with an update on the Certified Grass Fed Label, along withnews about the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program in New York and Pennsylvania. We will hear about an OREI research project being conducted by the Rodale Institute and the University of Iowa that is Integrating Crops and Livestock to Enhance Organic Farm Stability, Safety and Resilience. And, we will have some critically important updates on the Animal Welfare Rule, Origin of Livestock, Organic Checkoff and Other Issues Relevant to the Organic Community.

For all the details of the Field Days please go to:

Field Days Overview

To register online, go to:

Online registration

To download a Field Days brochure, please go to:

Field Days Brochure

To see photos of previous Field Days please go to:

Field Days Galleries

For an article on the Field Days Keynote Speaker:

Field Days Keynote

Organic Milk Pay, Retail and Feed Prices

Sales of organic fluid retail milk in May 2016 are the highest recorded in the history of USDA AMS recordkeeping dating back to 2008. USDA AMS data shows sales up by 5.4% January through May 2016, compared with the same period in 2015. Sales of organic whole milk are up 25.5% in May 2016 from sales in May 2015. Year-to-date sales of all organic milk are up 16.4% compared to the same period in 2015. New England continues to see strong growth in utilization of organic whole milk as reported by the Federal Milk Marketing Order 1 with utilization up by 32% in May 2016 over May 2015, and up 15% in June 2016 over June 2015. As we recognize that the organic dairy and beef market is now worldwide, with imports of organic milk, organic milk powder and organic beef manufacturing trim increasing, attention needs to be paid to changes in Europe, especially with the exit of Britain from the European Union. The EU farmgate price is approximately $26.50 per 100 lbs. of milk. Comparatively, retail prices in the EU are lower by about 35%.

For further details of what is happening and some charts, please go:


The Art and Science of Grazing

How Grass Farmers Can Create Sustainable Systems for Healthy Animals and Farm Ecosystems,  by Sarah Flack

An experienced grazier knows the art and science of grazing go hand in hand. Sarah Flack hits the mark with her new book, The Art and Science of Grazing, How Grass Farmers Can Create Sustainable Systems for Healthy Animals and Farm Ecosystems. It is written for all graziers with all skill and experience levels; it is a great resource to get the beginner off on the right start and the valuable information for the experienced grazier.” Nancy Glazier, Small Farms Specialist, Livestock & Field Crops Team, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Penn Yan, NY reviewed the book for NODPA. Her review can be found at:

The art and science of grazing

Updated Comments on the Proposed Rule: Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices

For the past three months, NODPA worked with Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (MODPA) and Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (WODPA) to submit comments on this Proposed Rule to bring some common sense, production-based criteria to regulations that are as specific as possible. Our comments reminded the NOP and organic consumers that organic certification is already the gold standard for animal welfare. It is not just a scorecard of the health and well-being of the livestock but is a third-party certified federal program with a holistic system approach that also considers the impact of the production system on the environment, the quality and content of animal feed, and ensures that livestock are not treated with any antibiotic, artificial hormones or growth stimulants. 

For an article on the key points of the comments submitted to USDA on 7/11/2016, please go to:

livestock/poultry rule

Added May 24, 2016

Proposed Rule: Organic Livestock
and Poultry Practices

On April 13, 2016, the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) published regulations concerning Animal Welfare with a Proposed Rule entitled Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices. The expectation of the organic livestock community was that this rule would concentrate on poultry, especially clarifying outdoor access and building on the Access to Pasture regulation of 2010 by implementing NOSB recommendations. Unfortunately, this is not what happened. Despite assurances from the NOP that the regulation should be viewed through the interpretations of the accompanying webinar ( the language within the Proposed Rule is what will become law. One of the reasons for the regulation is that both enforcement of existing regulation and NOP Guidance about interpretation of access to the outside for poultry has been ignored, allowing the porch-style poultry operation to double over the last five years. The difficulty of enforcing  the access to the outside for poultry and the amount of market share and profit at stake was further emphasized as conventional and organic poultry producers joined together to override the USDA NOP process of comment on regulation through Congressional action. The National Organic Coalition and the Farmers Union, plus many organizations and individuals, worked together to stop a rider being attached to the appropriations bill in the House and Senate. See their letter >

We delayed the print publication of the May 2016 NODPA News in order to include an article on the Proposed Regulation to ensure that those organic dairies without internet connection would be able to read the rule and send in their comments. To read the article, please go to:


The Federation of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers) is developing comments to respond to the NOP to ensure that we have a Final Rule that we can live with. We hold regular conference calls and welcome anyone who wants to join the discussion. Until we hear about any extension we are under a tight time limitation to get our comments into the NOP by June 13th 2016, so please send us your comments as soon as possible. Comments can be sent to Ed Maltby at , or faxed to 1-866-554-9483 or mailed to NODPA, 30 Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.

OTA updates its Organic
Checkoff proposal

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has sent an amended proposal for an organic checkoff to the USDA AMS, which published it on their website. They have made some technical edits based on USDA feedback, plus some changes based on the nine partial proposals developed by producer groups and their supporters. The OTA changed the definition of research based on feedback from NODPA and the National Farmers Union (NFU) and they made a change to how funds are allocated to ensure that agriculture research and producer education are a higher priority. OTA continue to propose a rather complicated system of nomination of the governing Board members to represent a region based on a non-existent database of organic operations with more than $250,000 in gross organic sales in the previous year. Plus they gave producers fewer seats on the Board, and producers make up only 6 out of the 16 members. Both the allocation of checkoff funds and the final appointment of Board members is the decision of a political appointee, the Secretary of Agriculture. We are all familiar with how those decisions are made in Washington DC.

In conversations with USDA AMS, the no-organic check-off coalition of producer groups has surmised that there is no timeline for when AMS might publish a full proposal on the Federal Register. USDA did say they will accept further comment and analysis of OTA’s amended proposal which we will be supplying in the next few weeks. You have probably been bothered by “robo calls” about the organic checkoff. Producers who have tried to tell the caller that they want to register a no vote have not been allowed to. Producers who have questioned how the $250,000 figure of gross organic sales and the calculation of net organic income will be determined have been told it will be on the honor system of self-declaration. That makes it the first tax levied that is based on the honor system. You will also have received literature claiming that everyone will pay a little and that the majority of the checkoff tax will be paid by handlers/processors. Consumers, retailers, marketers, transportation companies and other service providers will pay nothing, and the system that producers know well, of trickle-down economics, will come into effect as processors pass any check-off costs on to producers with a lower pay price. Growth in organic sales is being fueled by cheap imports, some with questionable integrity, that are undermining the pay price of domestic producers. As we have said many times, if we need domestic organic production to increase we need to pay producers a fair and sustained price for their organic products.

Recent Odairy Discussions

A farmer new to grazing asked how to group his herd of 45 cows with a service bull while outside and on pasture. Another producer was frustrated by two cows with recurrent mastitis. And there was a wide ranging discussion about the proposed animal welfare rule.


Added May 1, 2016

FOOD Farmers asks for extension on comment on Animal Welfare Regs

The Federation of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers) has requested an additional 30 days (to July 1, 2016) for comments on the Proposed Rule, National Organic Program, Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices. Many of the provisions are a surprise and require detailed evaluation and discussion with our members. Despite many comments submitted to the National Organic Standards Board in 2010 and 2011, this Proposed Rule has many provisions that make no sense to organic livestock farms and in fact are different from NOSB recommendations from 2011. FOOD Farmers have formed a committee to work on comments to this rule but we need more time as this is a very busy time of year for livestock producers. To download a copy of the request letter: Request for extension

Letter from the Field:


Read the attached creative and tongue in cheek letter from George Wright, an organic dairy producer of long standing, who has suffered the frustration of working within the organic standards to make a living for his family and employees. He was one of those that labored to supply sensible comment and reflection back in 2010 and 2011 thinking that it would be listened to and taken to heart. He is also a producer that has always been willing to travel to advocate for other producers and for the integrity of the organic seal. Please read the full letter with an open mind: Dear NOP ...

Creative Application of Grazing Science

“In the last few years, while working on writing a book, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many successful organic dairy farms and learn more about how farmers in different climates have successfully designed and managed their pastures.  I visited farms providing all or most of the herds dry matter from pasture during the grazing season, as well as farms on more limited land bases where grazing only provides 40 to 50% of the herd’s intake needs.  Some used only perennial plants, while others used innovative mixtures of both annuals and perennials.  The successful grazing systems were each unique and creatively designed to meet the farm and farm family goals.” To read the complete article by Sarah Flack, please go to:

Grazing Science

Recent ODairy Discussions

There was a good discussion on the use of hydrated lime on organic farms.  It is generally regarded as a prohibited substance; some certifiers will not allow its use for any purpose, but one producer pointed out that the NOP regulations specifically allow hydrated lime as an external pest control.  It specifically disallows its use to “cauterize physical alterations or deodorize animal wastes”. Other uses are not discussed in the standards. One producer wanted to use hydrated lime in bedded pack pens at clean out to sanitize the pen before clean bedding and new animals were introduced.  The farmer said his certifier would not allow it, and others on the list suggested that this was a misinterpretation of the rule.  A consultant suggested that very clear and precise communication is needed with the certifier in these situations, especially where a substance may be allowed for one type of use, but prohibited in another.  A crop farmer added that hydrated lime is very caustic and chemically reactive if applied to soil, certainly the reason why it is not allowed as a fertilizer.  But he feels that it is an important product for barn sanitation, and after reacting with water and organic matter (from manure and wet surfaces), it goes through a chemical change bringing its pH to  near neutral by the time it is spread onto the fields with the manure. To read the full article please click here.

Letter to the Editor

“I recently received the current paper edition of NODPA News [January, 2016] and read with interest the article about the young couple focused on building a life for themselves on the dairy farm in the NE Kingdom.  At 64 years old, I have learned that it is human nature to complain, and that farmers are not immune from this.” To read the complete letter from Charlie Green, Moravia, NY please go to: Letter to the Editor

Added March 29, 2016

Organic Exemption from Check-offs
for all certified operations

As of March 1, 2016, all organic operations can exempt themselves from paying into conventional check-offs. To read more about the process please go to:


To download the form for organic dairy producers to use, please go to:

AMS Organic Exemption Form

For exemption forms for other commodities please go to: 

For those that have not yet claimed their money back, don’t delay – it’s not often that as a small business you get tax money back!

Organic Check-off

The USDA AMS is reported to be moving through the process of examining all the issues raised by the partial proposals submitted to counteract the OTA’s full proposal on an organic check-off. There is no timeline for when they might publish a full proposal on the Federal Register, which will be available for comment. If you do not want an organic check-off, register your opinion with USDA AMS employees whenever you can because the USDA is under the false impression that farmers are in favor of a federally mandated organic check-off tax. To keep updated with all that is happening and to sign the petition against the check-off, please go to

Opposed to OTA’s proposed organic check off? If you are going to a meeting or conference this spring, download these handouts (EMBEDED LINK) and continue the education process, plus encourage folks to go to 

In Milk Supply Agreement with Stonyfield, Maple Hill Creamery grows its 100% Certified Grass-Fed Milk Shed

“Stuyvesant, NY, February 17, 2016 -- Grass-fed products were recently identified as a top 10 food trend in 2016 by retailer Whole Foods Market.” Maple Hill Creamery announced it has entered into a milk supply agreement with Danone-Stonyfield which is introducing a fruit on the bottom style yogurt using Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) organically certified grass fed milk. It’s no wonder that when the demand for grass-fed milk and meats expanded dramatically, the organic community did not turn to the USDA or any federal program to verify or certify the claim. The initiative taken by Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) and NOFA New York Certified Organic LLC, to work with producers and the industry, to have the only independent standards for grass-fed organic certification is one  answer that does ensure that grass-fed has organic as its basic production method. Trying to get any additional certification through the NOP is not commercially viable because the time it takes is unacceptable to the market. It makes commercial sense for these two certifiers to launch this certification, and it has been taken up by at least one processor as the standards they require from producers in order to supply their brand. The positive aspect is that certifiers have moved this process forward under some control that can protect the producer from exploitation and the consumer from deceptive claims. The problem is that the standards themselves are not specific, not easily enforced, and attract a price premium that can be undermined by a large influx of milk that lacks the integrity expected by those who drafted the standards and the consumer. There is no one definition of ‘Grassfed’, similarly there is no definition of ‘Natural’. To read about the Maple Hill Creamery initiatives, please go to:


Acupuncture in the Dairy Cow

By Cynthia Lankenau, DVM, CVA

“Our present day dairy cow is one of the hardest working animals, using incredible amounts of energy to produce their vast quantities of milk. Often, her ability to maintain herself with this huge demand fails and she is in need of help. Acupuncture can help. Acupuncture is a very old system of balancing the flow of energy in our body and nourishing the ability to maximize our existing energy.” To read Dr. Lankenau’s entire article, complete with graphic diagrams, please go to:


Breeding Considerations for Organic Dairy Farms

By Bradley J. Heins, DVM, Assistant Professor, Organic Dairy Management West Central Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota, Morris, MN

At the GrassWorks Grazing Conference in January, 2016, Bradley Heins moderated an industry panel on dairy breeds to consider for grass-based production. He agreed to write an article to provide an update on the breeding plans and some preliminary results from the University of Minnesota organic dairy herd in Morris, MN. To read the full article please go to:


Feed & Pay Price Update

Data published by the USDA AMS continues to show slight reduction in retail sales of organic non-fat fluid milk for November and December, 2015, and a small increase in sales of full fat and 2% fluid milk compared to 2014. The only Federal Milk Marketing Order to publish data on organic utilization is Order 1 (Northeast) and their data show that utilization of organic whole milk had increased by 20% to 13,659,363 lbs. in December, 2015 compared to 11,306,595 lbs. in December, 2014. Non-fat and Reduced Fat organic milk utilization only increased marginally by less than 1%. There is no tracking of the increasing sales of grass-fed milk, and now certified organic grass-fed milk, both retail and manufacturing. With Danone (Stonyfield brand) moving away from purchasing all of its supply from CROPP, it is expanding its direct purchasing of organic to include organic grass-fed, there is increasing competition for a limited pool of milk. Maple Hill Creamery, selling to Danone should assist with their balancing and allow them to continue their active solicitation of producers who can meet their standards. Producers are exercising their right to move their supply to other companies with the increase in competition across the Midwest and the Northeast. Those looking for an easier entry into a value added market are looking at the grass-fed market demand, whether it is an entry to organic or not. With the price of conventional milk projected to stay low because of the decrease in exports and without any grant based federal safety net, many small to mid-size dairy operations are looking at different options to stay in business. For more on pay and feed price, please go to:


Help USDA AMS decide if there is support for an Organic Check-Off– register your opposition now

NODPA is AGAINST ANY ORGANIC CHECK-OFF and will continue to organize against it, but OTA has purchased the right to submit a proposal so we need to ensure any process is democratic. USDA AMS has questioned the support for OTA’s proposal so please register your opposition to a check-off (if you haven’t already done so) by going to or write directly to Ed Maltby, NODPA, 30 Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.

Added January 27, 2016

Organic Exemption from Check-offs
for all certified operations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced at the end of 2015 that they will extend the organic farmer exemption from conventional commodity checkoffs to ALL organic farmers, effective February 29, 2016.  Organic farmers are no longer required to pay into conventional checkoff promotion programs that promote conventional products directly competing with their organic products.  This is a big win for the organic sector—checkoff programs are not a good match for independent organic farmers.  Those farms that are already exempt from paying into their conventional check-offs do not have to re-apply as their exemption will continue. Those that have previously not applied for exemption will need to fill out a revised form AMS-15 (not yet available); submit that form to the commodity check-off they are currently paying into; wait up to thirty days for the check-off Board to approve the exemption or ask more questions; then work with their buyers to ensure that the check-off money is not taken out, or submit a request for reimbursement to the checkoff Board. This process has to be repeated annually. The big winners here will be the milk processing companies (including those large, vertically integrated dairies) that are currently paying into the fluid milk assessment of 20 cents per hundred pounds for Class 1 milk – they will save over $4.5 million per year in payments. For more information please go to:


Check-off’s are not inevitable

For those of you that assume once the OTA submitted their proposal for a check-off that it is inevitable, look at the experience of the Hardwood Checkoff:

The United States Department of Agriculture terminated the Hardwood Lumber and Hardwood Plywood Promotion, Research and Information Order program proposal, commonly called the Hardwood Checkoff, on Oct. 28, 2015.

The Hardwood Checkoff would have assessed wood mills of certain sizes in order to fund promotions for the hardwood industry, similar to the “Got Milk?” and “The Other White Meat” campaigns for the milk and pork industries.

The USDA terminated the proposal because of critical public comments, lingering and substantive questions and significant proposed modifications from key stakeholders.

For more information please go to:
and look at the opponents website:

Opposed to OTA’s proposed organic check off? If you are going to a meeting or conference this winter, download these handouts (EMBEDED LINK) and continue the education process, plus encourage folks to go to 

Profitability of Organic Farms
Up Slightly in 2014

Bob Parsons of UVM Extension concludes his excellent article on the results of his survey of organic farms now in its tenth year with the following: “In conclusion, organic farms are getting by.  Organic production is not the road to riches for many; however it has been a key vehicle of survival for many of the smaller farms who likely would be out of business if they had not had the option to go organic. Higher milk prices are needed but can the market absorb a higher price without losing consumer demand? While the coming years likely will not see an immediate loss of organic dairy farms, there should be concern for long term viability and a sustainable and healthy supply of organic milk from Vermont farms. Without a higher price, organic dairy farms have only the same options they had available when on the conventional treadmill; add more cows and produce more milk per cow to meet rising expenses.” For the full article please go to:


Recent ODairy Discussions:
Let Us Know If You Have Problems Receiving Them!

Over the New Year some of you may have had trouble with receiving ODairy post because of changes initiated by some of the internet companies. Our technical team of Chris Hill and Jeremy Eastburn worked on it with our web provider and, I think, has solved the problem. If you are still not getting the Odairy posts then try the Spam folder of your web server and computer. If none of those works, then please contact us. Apologies for any inconvenience. Join the active and informative email list serve by going to:  

To follow the thread of past discussions, visit Odairy’s archives on NODPA’s website at

‘Baby, its Cold Outside’:
Watch out for Livestock!

This timely article by Juan P. Alvez, Pasture Technical Coordinator, Center for Sustainable Agriculture – UVM Extension, gives some important tips on how to keep livestock productive and healthy when we have extremes of weather. For the complete article please go to:


Feed & Pay Prices

Recent data published by the USDA-AMS show a continuing slight reduction in retail sales of organic non-fat fluid milk for October 2015, and a small increase in sales of full fat and 2% fluid milk. While retail fluid sales have declined, the retail price has increased and there are still shortages on supermarket shelves. The drop in sales can be attributed to a shortage of supply and milk being diverted to manufacturing as demand for the higher margin organic dairy non-fluid products is increasing. Manufacturers and retailers are continuing to look at imports as a more steady supply of both finished organic product (cheese); bulk product to be packaged within the US and organic powder because pricing and supply are preferable to buying domestic. Producers are continuing to use the end of their contract and cooperative agreements to move to other buyers, especially more regional buyers in the northeast. Conventional producers are examining their ability to transition to organic production, especially with the lower conventional price in 2015, which has resulted in enquiries to NODPA from Farm Credit about the state of the organic dairy market, as there is no independent data at the USDA. The only Federal Milk Marketing Order to publish data on organic utilization is Order 1 (Northeast) and their data show that utilization of organic whole milk had increased by 25% to 13,068,122 lbs. in November 2015 compared to 10,452,276 lbs. in November 2014. Non-fat and Reduced Fat organic milk utilization only increased marginally by less than 1%. Those transitioning to organic and their advisors should always be aware of the learning curve on livestock husbandry skills and practices and also pay close attention to restrictions imposed by their land base, plus the increased cost of organic dairy production as clearly expressed by Bob Parsons’ ongoing study. For the complete article and charts please go to:


Help USDA AMS decide if there is support for an Organic Check-Off– register your opposition now

NODPA is AGAINST ANY ORGANIC CHECK-OFF and will continue to organize against it, but OTA has purchased the right to submit a proposal so we need to ensure any process is democratic. USDA AMS has questioned the support for OTA proposal so please register your opposition to a check-off (if you haven’t already done so) by going to or write directly to Ed Maltby, NODPA, 30 Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.

Regional Round Up of Producers,
January 2016

Aaron Bell –Tide Mill Farm, Edmunds, Maine – Horizon – 45 cows in milk. Other than dreaming of a vacuum drone under the Christmas tree that would put strewn feed back in Tide Mill Farm’s feed bunks, Aaron Bell reports that his farm is in better straights than this time last year.

Kirk Arnold – Truxton, New York – Organic Valley- 125 cows in milk
Kirk said he is feeling relatively positive about the farm’s economy as they close in on 2015. They have enjoyed the higher milk prices of the past few years.  It has allowed some overdue upgrades to both their equipment and barn.

Liz Bawden- Hammond, New York- Horizon- 55 cows in milk “Our farm is in a better situation than last year.  Feed quality is much better, contributing to higher milk production.”

Jeep Madison- Shoreham, Vermont – Horizon- 60 cows in milk
Jeep said that things are better than they have been in quite a few years.  They’re short on feed but usually plan on buying feed anyway. 

George Wright – Wright Dairy, Hermon, New York – Upstate Niagara – 50 Cows in milk
“Here in northern NY we are experiencing above normal temperatures for the fall and looks like they will continue on into the winter.”

Roman Stoltzfoos- Spring Wood Organic Farm, Kinzers, Pennsylvania–Natural By Nature- 200 cows in milk. Roman reported that the economic situation on his farm is better than last year but feels that, realistically, the pay price is $5-10/cwt. lower than it should be. 

Rick Segalla – Canaan, Connecticut – Organic Valley- 115 Cows in milk.
Rick reported he will change processors in March.  He will be switching from Organic Valley to Calabro cheese.  Calabro Cheese was the first company that bought his organic milk and he’s going back. The pay price is higher. 

John Amey – Indian Stream Farm, Pittsburg, New Hampshire – Organic Valley – 43 Cows in milk.  John reported that he’s been telling everybody that there’s never been a better time to be a farmer. He survived the Hood thing because of Organic Valley.

To read the complete article compiled by Sonja Heyck-Merlin, please click here.


Added December 15, 2015

Planning for Winter Feeding

Karen Hoffman, Resource Conservationist – Animal Science, USDA-NRCS, Norwich, NY

It is once again the time of year to begin thinking about winter feeding.  In most areas the pastures have either slowed significantly or completely stopped growing, and stored forage will need to be fed to cows for a few months.  A concern that some organic dairy farmers have expressed is the cost of organic grain, and those who are 100% grass-fed want to plan their forage inventories.  What can you do that will help keep the cost as low as possible, as well as keep cows healthy and productive through the winter? To read the complete article please go to:


Local Farms Fund: a New Farmland Investment Fund

Local Farms Fund (LFF) is a new farmland investment fund that supports young and early stage, sustainable farmers by providing secure land access. The fund’s goal is to provide lease-to-own land arrangements, with the option for the farmer to purchase the land from the fund after 5 years. LFF’s lease-to-own model provides essential land security to the farmer, while the farmer is developing his or her farm business. Recently, Sonja Heyck-Merlin, NODPA News contributing writer and Maine organic dairy farmer, interviewed Kevin Egolf, Co-Founder and Manager of the Local Farms Fund. To read his responses please go to:


NOFA-NY Announces New Organic Dairy Certification Transitions Project

By Bethany Wallis, NOFA-NY Education Director
NOFA-NY Inc. announces a new program to help dairy farmers transition to organic management.  With the current downturn in conventional milk pricing, many farmers who have been on the fence about transitioning to organic management practices are now taking a good hard look at the organic marketing option as a way to increase farm income.  They are also evaluating an increase in marketing opportunities that organic processors are providing with new grass fed price premiums. This may be the largest transitioning group NOFA-NY has seen since farmers were trying to get in before the 1 year, 100% organic feed rule change.  For more details please go to:


Recent ODairy Discussions –
From November 2015
  • A cow freshened with a hot, hard quarter and a temperature of 105.6.  A vet on the list determined that this would be a coliform mastitis. 
  • Confirmed cases of lungworm in one producer’s herd sent him to the list looking for alternatives to the use of conventional parasiticides, which carries a 90-day withholding for milking animals. 
  • A farmer asked the group if there was an approved treatment to heal pneumonia scars in cattle that would calm chronic and occasional coughing. 
  • A long discussion about one sick cow led to some good discussion about Staph aureus. 
  • Cooler temperatures brought hordes of mice into one farmer’s barns.  There were the usual suggestions about adding more cats to the staff and putting down traps.  A vet recommended putting up nesting boxes for barn owls or sparrow hawks.  If they are native to your region, they can consume great quantities of mice.

For all the detailed solutions please read the full article by NODPA President Liz Baldwin:



Added November 24, 2015

Hydroponics: What is the Big Deal?

The National Organic Standard Board (NOSB) meeting in Stowe, VT featured a demonstration by Vermont and Maine farmers and their supporters about hydroponics, an issue which the NOSB has already made recommendations five years ago, but the NOP said they needed more information before rulemaking. The hydroponic issue was also raised by many in the verbal comments session to the Board. The farmers that took the time away from their farms to stage a very polite protest for an hour or so outside the NOSB meeting stressed the importance of cultivating, building, improving and replenishing the soil and the environment as central to the integrity of the organic label. They also accepted that they have a responsibility to play an active role in maintaining that integrity. Liana Hoodes made the same point at the NODPA Field Days, that farmers have a responsibility to safeguard the label by being involved with the process of rulemaking and deciding policy.

Often it’s the scientist or the consumer or the environmentalist that has the center stage in presenting opinion, scientific evidence and then justification in deciding what is acceptable in organic production. The voice of the farmer must be heard, especially when those decisions that are being made make no practical farming sense or common sense. Economic growth, the preservation of economic investment, or the status quo cannot be arguments that prevail at the expense of the future integrity of the organic label. With organic dairy, we went through the process where NOP said the regulation on access to pasture was not legally explicit enough to enforce and large dairies were already established that would suffer ‘economic hardship’ with a strict enforcement. We also have that issue with Animal Welfare and now, it appears, with hydroponics.

From a farmer’s point of view these seem like non-issues (of course growing and harvesting crops that aren’t grown in soil is not organic) but we do need to participate in the decision-making process to ensure that regulations are explicit and legally enforceable. Otherwise, we will lose the market to large, capital intensive operations that can game the system, especially now that organic is a worldwide commodity. For more details about what is happening with the process around allowing USDA NOP organic hydroponics in domestic and foreign production, plus the process of addressing farmer concerns, please go to:


NOSB MEETING, Stowe, Vermont
Oct 26-29, 2015

By Dr. Jean Richardson

“The meeting in Stowe was very well attended, with about 200 attendees, including 110 people who made public comment. This was in addition to the 35 additional people who had provided public comment during the Webinar format public comment in the two weeks prior to the Stowe meeting.  These opportunities for public comment via an internet webinar allowed the NOSB to receive comment from farmers and veterinarians and others who could not come to the meeting in Stowe, including one person calling in from Australia to support the addition of sodium and potassium lactate for use in meat processing. Public Comment was certainly one of the highlights for me.” To read the full text of Jean article please go to:


Organic Milk, Pay, Retail and Feed Prices November 2015

Total retail sales of organic fluid milk for July and August 2015 showed a decline in sales over the previous year. Sales of non-fat products continue to drop while whole milk continues to increase. While retail fluid sales have declined, the retail price has increased and there are still shortages on supermarket shelves.’ The drop in sales can be attributed to a shortage of supply or milk being diverted to manufacturing as demand for organic dairy non-fluid products is increasing. Producers are continuing to move to different buyers as contracts end and pay price continues to increase in response to higher inputs and competition for supply. In the northeast farmgate price between $35-40 per hundred pounds are being reported and higher with operation that meet the grass-based criteria of some buyers and at least two certifiers. In the Midwest the mailbox price can average $33-35 per hundred pounds.

As domestic supply is tight and producers transitioning or expanding are slow, the two major national brands are looking overseas and to other beverage products to expand their operations and profitably. For more details and charts of trends over the last seven years, go to:


Added October 20, 2015

15th Annual NODPA Field Days
Organic Dairy: Preparing for the Next Generation

The 15th Annual NODPA Field Days took place on October 1 and 2 under excellent weather, despite the wind at Cottonwood Farms.

The farm tour was attended by over 60 folks who spent over three hours at the farm courtesy of the Tillotson family. For more details on the farm please go to:


The rest of the day was filled with an exceptional presentation by Rick Kershbergen, Extension Professor, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, followed by a honest and thought provoking panel of younger producers who highlighted the challenges and opportunities available for the next generation.  Liana Hoodes gave a unique key note speech drawing from her many years of experience of building consensus within the organic community and encouraged producers to be part of the process to protect the integrity of the organic label, with many practical examples of success. Fay Benson led a discussion around the different challenges to organic integrity to close the evening.
The producer breakfast meeting on Friday morning elected a new NODPA Vice President, Kirk Arnold,  and New York State Representative, Ryan Murray, and had a well facilitated discussion around major issues facing producers, especially around parasiticides.

Tim Joseph from Maple Hill Creamery gave a great presentation on grass milk and its increased presence in the marketplace which was followed by the door prize raffle and a short presentation on the final workshop of the day on cow comfort at the Cottonwoods Farm. For more information on this topic please go to:


We must thank Fay Benson and friends at the NY Organic Dairy Initiative for a terrific cookout at Letchworth State Park. The quality of the food matched the unique setting which is rightly called the Grand Canyon of the East. For photographs of the event please go to:


NOSB meeting next week
in snowy Vermont

The NOSB meeting will be held at the Stoweflake Conference Center, 1746 Mountain Road, Stowe,
Vermont 05672 and starts on Monday, October 26, 2015 at 9:00 am and runs to Thursday, October 29, 2015, ending at 6:00pm. The National Organic Coalition (NOC) will hold its pre-NOSB meeting on Sunday October 25 at the Conference Center – starting at 9:30 and running until about 5:00 pm. These meetings are an ideal time to hear from colleagues around the country with passionate and varied opinions.

NODPA has presented written comments on Parasiticides, Procaine, Mineral Oil and Lidocaine. NODPA also supports the comments presented by the National Organic Coalition including their position on hydroponic systems, “Until a clear definition and guidelines based on the 2010 NOSB recommendation have been provided by the NOP, certifiers should not be allowed to certify hydroponic systems. Certifiers need to be directed as to which soilless systems may be certified, and which do not meet the criteria and are not eligible for organic certification. NOC urges the NOP to write “NOP Instruction to Certifiers” that leads to Rulemaking. The instruction should include clear criteria that follow the NOSB 2010 recommendation, and adhere to the definition of organic production presented in the Rule.”
NODPA has commented on the withholding time on different drugs which seemed to have an arbitrary withdrawal time and recommended reducing it to 5 days for Fenbenzadole and Moxidectin, and sun-setting Ivermectin. Lidocaine and Procaine are used as local anesthetic and we have recommended reducing the withdrawal time to 48 hours, and also recommend the continued use of mineral oil, topically.

Taking the time to ensure that we have a scientific basis for the use and withdrawal time of different drugs will benefit organic livestock producers, so NODPA fully supports the NOSB’s work on these issues.

To read NODPA’s comments sent to the NOSB please go to:

NODPA comments to NOSB 10.8.15.pdf

To read the National Organic Coalition’s comments, please go to

ACTION ALERT: Proposed Rule Change
on Requirements for Field Testing Regulated Genetically Engineered Wheat

Deadline for comments is October 26th

The US is the world's largest exporter of wheat, an $8 billion business. Market rejection of genetically engineered (GE) wheat both domestically and abroad is longstanding. Two recent detections of GE wheat in Oregon and Montana did not go unnoticed on the world stage. The USDA has yet to uncover the sources of these contamination events.

That is why we welcome the news that the USDA wants to improve oversight of GE wheat trials by requiring permits for these trials. This is a step in the right direction, since nearly all GE crop field trials are currently regulated through a notification system that relies on voluntary compliance by the developers of GE crops. These field trials go largely unmonitored by the USDA. In fact, by our estimate, only 13% of experimental GE wheat trials have been inspected since 2000. That leaves a huge gap in information and accountability.

Requiring permits should improve regulatory oversight, including requiring inspections of field sites, but permits alone are not enough. Updated regulations coupled with improved oversight are desperately needed to protect our seed and food supply, and the livelihoods of farmers. Without improvements in regulation and oversight, contamination will happen again.

Submit your comments at this link by October 26th

Join us in telling the USDA that: There should be a moratorium on GE wheat field trials until regulatory improvements are made. USDA admits that despite extensive investigation, it does not know the origin of unauthorized GE wheat found in Oregon. The agency is still investigating unauthorized GE wheat found in Montana. Even without an understanding of how the GE wheat appeared where it did, it is reasonable to conclude that the current field trial requirements are inadequate.

Permits must establish mandatory contamination prevention measures and hold GE crop developers liable for contamination events. Permit requirements should include descriptions of how field tests will be performed, specific measures for ensuring confinement of the crops to reduce risks, and detailed plans for destroying crops at the end of the season. The USDA should also inspect field trials several times, including after the crop is destroyed and in subsequent growing seasons to look for volunteer plants. Developers of GE crops should be financially responsible for testing costs and losses associated with their field trials.

Permit holders should be required to notify growers who could be impacted by the trials. Farmers, seed companies, and plant breeders within the vicinity of GE field trials should be notified of their existence. This helps ensure that area growers are able to take precautions to avoid contamination and test their crops to ensure containment is successful.

AGAIN, submit your comments electronically at this link.

What Eating Organic Food Does for the World

“Sure, I eat organic food because I think it's healthier for me than food grown with synthetic, toxic agrochemicals or food that's been genetically engineered or injected with growth hormones. But equally important to me are the multiple ecosystem services and broader benefits for society that organic farming provides.

"For starters, when you eat organic, you support a system of food production that taps into the very best of what nature has to offer. You eschew farming practices that aim to overpower nature's complex ecological systems by taming them with artificial chemicals. You reject the growing of a single crop on sterile land bereft of vegetation that extends for miles. And you sustain organic farmers and farming practices that enrich nature's ecology by producing strong plants that resist pests and disease and produce healthy and delicious food.”

For the full article by Lisa Bunin, PhD, organic policy director, Center for Food Safety please go to:


Pasture, Calves and Internal Parasites

This is a timely article by Hue Karreman that looks at the prevention and treatment of stomach worms. Hue recommends production practices and alternatives to parasiticides to solve problems and sums up nicely what producers should be doing now and year round in caring for their livestock:

“Remember, now is the time to really check your young stock on pasture for signs of internal worm infestation. If they are infested and nothing is done about it, the first batch of damp cold weather will likely bring on pneumonia – and that is not at all desirable. So be mindful: stop and observe your animals and take action as needed now, not later.”

For the complete article by Hue please go to:



By Sonja Heyck-Merlin, Clovercrest Farm, Charleston, ME

“What do some Kentucky Derby racehorses and the Jersey calves raised on our central Maine farm have in common?  Both have gone through a process known as imprint training or imprinting at birth.  Roughly five years ago we were encouraged by an experienced horse trainer with a background in natural horsemanship to experiment with imprinting our newborn heifer calves.  We took her advice because she stressed that it wouldn’t take a lot of time, it was virtually free and we would see positive results two years later when we milked these heifers for the first time.”

For the complete article by Sonja please go to:


Organic Farmers:
Weigh in on National Organic Survey

National policies, issues and institutions affect all organic farmers, yet we lack a strong presence to ensure that the certified organic farmers’ viewpoint, needs and concerns are represented in the national arena.  To address this situation, several organic farming organizations have been discussing building a more effective and clear voice for certified organic farmers. We are proud of certified organic’s growth and growing prominence in the marketplace, and believe now is the time that farmers, who are at the core of this success, establish a focused and strong voice.  

To ensure we are going about this the right way, and to make certain this direction is desired by organic farmers and ranchers, we need YOUR feedback! Please complete this short 10 minute survey to tell us your thoughts about a national effort to organize organic farmers, and to identify issues important to you. Please contact Kate Mendenhall, kate.mendenhall
, 585-944-2503 for more information and how to be part of the larger discussion. Paper surveys are available to those without access to the web.

Help USDA AMS decide if there is support for an Organic Check-Off – register your opposition now

NODPA, along with at least eight other organizations, submitted partial proposals to the USDA AMS on or before July 20th on a proposal for an organic check-off. NODPA’s position in submitting the partial proposal was to ensure that there would be a democratic process in any decision on establishing an organic check-off, that all certificate holders would have a vote on such an important issue. OTA’s proposal would have limited voting rights to the largest one third of certified farmers. We do not know how USDA AMS will use the partial proposals and how they will be incorporated into the OTA proposal when they publish the proposal(s) to form an organic check-off on the Federal Register for public comment. Hopefully, USDA will recognize the importance of allowing all members of the “organic commodity” the right to vote on establishing an organic check-off.

NODPA is AGAINST ANY ORGANIC CHECK-OFF and will continue to organize against it, but OTA has purchased the right to submit a proposal so we need to ensure any process is democratic. USDA AMS has questioned the support for OTA proposal so please register your opposition to a check-off (if you haven’t already done so) by going to the No Organic Checkoff site or write directly to Ed Maltby, NODPA, 30 Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.

Added September 10, 2015

Is Robotics Part of the
Organic Dairy Farm of the Future?

According to Rick Kershbergen, Extension Professor, University of Maine Cooperative Extension,
“There are many reasons robotics may play a role in the small family farm of the future. When I visit dairy farms, I always try and make an appraisal of how content and “happy” the cows are in herd. How cows react to people or distractions are good indicators of how they are treated and their level of contentment. The higher the percentage of cows that are lying down chewing their cud, or grazing in the pasture or eating at the feed bunk is an indicator of comfort. What I noticed in my travels was the calm nature of the cows on robotic farms. These cows are never “pushed” by people, so walking through some of the barns can be quite a challenge, as the cows don’t get out of the way when you walk by!”

To hear Rick’s full presentation come to the NODPA Field Days and to read more of his article please go to:


All Certified Organic Farmers & Handlers Are Eligible for Reimbursement for up to 75% of Certification Costs 

SIGN UP TODAY - Deadline: September 30, 2015!

Certified farmers, handlers and processors in all 50 United States (and some territories) are eligible for 75% of certification fees (up to $750) for each certified scope. The refund is available for 4 certification scopes: crops, livestock, handling (processing) and wild crops. Certified entities could receive up to $3,000 for all 4 scopes.

  • You must apply every year in your state for the refund
  • There is plenty of money to fund this – if you are turned away or limited to 1 scope, ask again, or contact your certifier
  • Watch for application deadlines in your state – but rules are now more flexible, so if you think you have missed the deadline, ask for help or contact NOC

More Information about the Program:

  • All organic certified entities – farmers, handlers/processors – are eligible receive cost share reimbursement of 75% of the actual cost paid to your certifier up to a maximum of $750 per certification category for each year that you certify.
  • To qualify, applicants must be certified organic by a USDA-accredited certifying agency.
  • You are eligible to receive a payment for each category you are certified under.  If you make one payment for all, your state will simply divide the total payment and give you the total of 75% (up to $750) for each.  This may result in a reimbursement more than $750.  The maximum any one entity can receive is $3000 ($750 X 4)
  • The 4 eligible Scope/categories:  Crops, Livestock, Processing/Handling, and Wild Harvest
  • This reimbursement is annual, just like your certification payment.  You must re-apply each year.
  • Ask your certifier – they have the information on how you can apply.  Most programs are run through your State Department of Agriculture, but some are administered through a certifier.
  • Because the federal government runs on a fiscal year October 1 through September 30, and state deadlines may vary, your deadlines may get confusing – Make sure you apply for each year you are certified (and have paid), and this should get worked out at the state level.  
  • This is a partial reimbursement for money you have already paid to comply with this federal program; it is not a subsidy or a handout.

Contact your Certifier or your State Department of Agriculture. Procedures and application deadlines may differ in each state. If you are not getting the information you need or are turned away or limited by your state, please contact the National Organic Coalition at

Pay and Feed Price Update:
September 2015

Total retail sales for organic fluid milk for June 2015 show no increase on June 2014 sales, but sales of non-fat products continue to drop while whole milk continues to increase. We have no data on total organic milk production so it’s not possible to estimate if this lack of growth in fluid sales is the result of consumer demand or lack of supply.

Retailers are being shorted as organic milk is being diverted to manufacturing use as demand for a consistent supply of organic ingredients increases dramatically with rising interest in non-fluid organic products. Organic processors also have many different plant-based beverages that compete in the dairy case for space. Processors shorting retailers on dairy products may mean increased facing/shelf space for those products and less for dairy beverages. We also have no data on organic imports and how many manufacturers are sourcing organic whey and milk powders, and at what price. Recent equivalency agreements have opened the door to increased imports from Europe, which will require more policing to ensure that none come from livestock treated with antibiotics, which is allowable under some European certifiers. To read more and see updated charts, please go to:


Let there be light on pork checkoffs

From Farm and Food File by Alan Guebert

To read more of Alan’s article on the long fight for transparency and honesty in the Pork Checkoff please go to:



Added August 19, 2015

Origin of Livestock
Comments to USDA NOP

NODPA’s comment was filed before the deadline of July 27 and reflected the long held beliefs of producers about the need to maintain the integrity of the organic seal and reward those producers that have been following the intent of the regulations for the past ten years. To read those comments please go to:

Origin of livestock comments 7.18.15.pdf

Organic Checkoff Partial Proposal

NODPA advocated to the USDA for the opportunity to present alternative ideas on a checkoff program and the USDA granted that request without asking for any bond money because they were not convinced that the OTA proposal reflects the views of the organic community. OTA’s money and resources have given them the opportunity to submit a proposal for an organic checkoff, and their proposal limits who can vote to establish one. NODPA’s proposal goes to a basic equality issue that every certificate holder should have one vote in any decision to form an organic checkoff. This was submitted to USDA on July 18th. To read the partial proposal please go to:

OrganicCheckoffPartialProposal NODPA final 7.18.15.pdf

Cow Comfort: The Big Picture

“Ever since we domesticated cattle they have had to adapt to environments designed by man often without their needs and preferences in mind. Even pasture-based systems in dairy do not completely mimic the conditions and social interactions found in the natural state. The fairly recent awakening to cow comfort and well-being by the dairy industry has been driven by both public opinion and university research. This is as much an economic pursuit as it is a movement towards better conditions for animals per se.”  Read the full article from Jerry Bertoldo, DVM, Dairy Specialist on the North West New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crop Team, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Genesee County and come to hear him speak at the NODPA Field Days.

Management of Perennial Pastures in the Summer:
Do Not Overgraze. No matter how slow the regrowth.

"In the transition zone, the hot, dry summer months are a critical time to ensure that appropriate pasture management is utilized. Although it seems to happen too fast, in a short while many areas will begin to leave spring behind and move into summer. As air and soil temperatures increase, and rainfall becomes sparse, our cool season perennials recover from grazing much more slowly. The severity of the summer as well as the degree of rainfall will determine how quickly the stands recover. While the summer may be cool and moist (not likely), we should still approach the warm season prepared for slower pasture regrowth and summer dormancy.”

Read the full article by Joshua Baker, Marketing Manager/Southern Region Coordinator, Kings AgriSeeds, Inc.

Regional Roundup from
Organic Dairy Farm Families

From Maine to Virginia, New York to Pennsylvania organic dairy farm families report back on their late spring and early summer farming progress in the differing climatic conditions that prevail in the northeast. With the increases in pay price and the continued short supply, this may turn out to be a better year than the last few, with feed prices remaining steady.

Read more >

Odairy Summary

“A farmer asked the group for some suggestions about a 6-year old cow he called a “hard keeper’.  She is thin, has a rough hair coat, and has had loose, dark manure all her life.  The farmer has tested her for Johnes’ disease and worms.” 
“One producer had shipping fever trouble.  New cows were brought into a herd, and one cow died from pneumonia within 10 days.  The producer asked what course of action to take to prevent more illness.” 
“Looking for suggestions for an electric fence energizer, a farmer asked the group for suggestions.  Two producers highly recommended the Cyclops fencers; another recommended the Stafix 15 joule fencer.”
“An udder sore appeared between the front quarters of a fresh cow.  The farmer asked what the best course of treatment would be.” 
“A farmer with triticale fields asked why about 10% of the grain head stems are a foot or so taller than the rest.”
These are all questions that were posted on the ODairy list serve over the last couple of months. To read about some of the answers that were generated, please go to the summary that Liz Bawden has written.

July 20, 2015

2015 NODPA Field Days, October 1 & 2, 2015, Pavilion, NY:

Organic Dairy -- Preparing for the Next Generation

Western New York will play host to the 15th Annual NODPA Field Days on October 1st and 2nd, in Pavilion NY, an active farming community south of Rochester, NY. This year, we tackle the critically important topic of how to attract and retain the next generation of organic dairy producers.  It’s time to figure out how to adapt the farm to the changing needs of our children and grandchildren if we hope to keep organic dairy alive in the United States. The NODPA Field Days program will explore the current obstacles and opportunities for the next generation of organic dairy farmers, and will present success stories where family farms are adopting new and creative practices for the 21st century, and will hear from young farmers who will inform the discussion.
The next generation won’t be the only topic on the program; we will get an update on the grass-fed milk trend; have an extended, on-farm workshop on cow comfort; and will hear about robotic milking in the Netherlands, where it all began. We are excited to announce that Liana Hoodes, the founding director of the National Organic Coalition will be NODPA Field Days’ keynote speaker. She will share her experiences and observations about the future of the Organic brand, and following her presentation, everyone will have a chance to jump into the conversation during a discussion facilitated by Fay Benson, that we are calling Working Together for a Sustainable Organic Dairy Future.

This year, we wrap up Field Days with a special event. The New York Organic Dairy Initiative will host a cookout at the nearby Letchworth State Park, often called The Grand Canyon of the East, to conclude this year’s NODPA meeting. It’s a beautiful time of year to view the magnificent falls of the Genesee River. Read more …

Origin of Livestock
Comments to USDA NOP

Since its formation in 2002, NODPA has always submitted comment directly to the USDA on its proposed regulations. One of the first topics that NODPA sent comment on, in 2003, was the Origin of Livestock, and have now finalized our comment in response to the Proposed Rule on the Origin of Livestock, twelve years later. NODPA’s comment will be filed before the deadline of July 27 and will reflect the long held beliefs of producers about the need to maintain the integrity of the organic seal and reward those producers that have been following the intent of the regulations for the past ten years. To read those comments please go to:

Origin of livestock comments 7.18.15.pdf

Organic Checkoff Partial Proposal

NODPA has decided to take a leadership position on the proposed organic checkoff and has built coalitions to educate producers on the implications of the checkoff and to bring some form of democratic choice to any decision making. NODPA advocated to the USDA for the opportunity to present alternative ideas on a checkoff program and the USDA granted that request. We have responded with a partial proposal with our own ideas on the process of deciding whether there will be a checkoff. OTA’s money and resources has given them the opportunity to submit a proposal for an organic checkoff and their proposal limits who can vote to establish one. NODPA’s proposal goes to a basic equality issue that every certificate holder should have one vote in any decision to form an organic checkoff. This was submitted to USDA on July 18th. To read the partial proposal please go to:

OrganicCheckoffPartialProposal NODPA final 7.18.15.pdf

Update from Jean Richardson, National Organic Standards Board Chair

As Jean Richardson comes to the end of her time as Chair of the NOSB she states in her regular column in the NODPA News that “My goal as Chair for the next 4 months is to continue to work to expand opportunities for a broader cross section of public comment in a diversity of ways, using modern technology where possible, reduce our carbon footprint where possible, and complete this cycle of Sunset Review.  I believe that working together we can do this.”

NODPA had an opportunity to discuss these issues in a telephone conference call with Miles McEvoy, head of NOP, Jean Richardson, Chair of the NOSB, Betsy Rakola, Organic Policy Advisor from the Secretary’s office, and NOP’s new Standards Director, Dr. Paul Lewis. We talked about the upcoming NOSB meeting in Vermont, some of the issue on the table, and the need to maintain the opportunity for in-person public comment at the meeting from interested stakeholders, especially producers. Everyone agreed that this was an important part of the integrity and accountability of the NOSB and made organic unique in the marketplace, which is what producers need to ensure their profitability. To read Jean’s column please click here.

For more information about the NOSB please go to: click here .

Pay Price, Feed & Retail
Price Update for July 2015

Organic milk is part of the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) and use of organic milk is approximately 75% in Class 1, which means that processors pay into the pool that helps stabilizes non-organic milk. While processors are always complaining about the unfairness of still being part of the FMMO they do use it to balance their usage, especially with the spring flush, and being part of the order ensures that milk plants will process organic milk on schedule. Another aspect of the FMMO is the recording of data by an independent entity which can show how all milk is being used, including organic. In the last month, Federal Order No. 1 of the FMMO has released statistics on how many organic producers are shipping milk to plants in the region. These show that while consumer demand and production are increasing, the number of farms is dropping. The FMMO also records that organic milk has higher butterfat tests by about .18% (organic at 3.91% and non-organic at 3.73%) while protein levels were about the same for both types of milk. The FMMO does not record all the information for those producing organic milk but this data is excellent at showing the trends in production and farm numbers. Whatever the reason, and there is no one reason, organic is going the way of conventional dairy: larger, but fewer organic dairy farms. Organic processors are again investigating submitting a petition to the FMMO to make changes in the way organic milk is assessed by the order, and there will be a transparent (and long) process involved. It was reported this month that organic milk sales, year-to-date, are down 0.5%, as reduced fat milks’ sales drop slightly and whole milk sales increase. For more details and information please click here.

Added May, 2015

Organic Checkoff Tax:
USDA Wants More Proposals

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) spent the last four years developing a proposal for an organic promotion, research and information order, finally submitting a proposal for the check-off program to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) on May 12, 2015. GO TO PROPOSAL FROM OTA

But, AMS isn't satisfied that OTA has met the requirement to have the support of the organic community (now called “the commodity”) and less than a week later, they issued a request for supplemental or partial proposals; AMS staff "believes that it is in the best interests of the organic community to solicit a wide range of views before proceeding with the publication of this proposal." The request is at the USDA AMS site. Sam Jones-Ellard, AMS spokesperson, told Sustainable Food News that the request for additional check-off proposals was "unusual" but not without precedent. It appears that this request for alternative or partial proposals indicates that USDA is proceeding on a path similar to that used for the Mushroom Order, published in June 1992, and the Avocado industry in 2000.

NODPA and other groups will be submitting partial proposals to address basic issues of transparency, democratic decision making, and use of resources in the short timeline for proposals that USDA AMS has given. NODPA has also asked for an extension of the deadline for submitting proposals because of the burden of consulting with producers at the busiest time of the year. Click here to view the request for extension.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) joined check-off opposition after they held a referendum among its members that showed "not a single vote was cast in favor" of OTA's check-off proposal. "The OSGATA membership has spoken loud and clear," said Maine certified-organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of OSGATA. "Organic farmers and seed growers resoundingly reject the OTA's organic check-off proposal and our membership believes it's important that organic farmers work together to defeat the industry's mandatory tax on our livelihoods."

Origin of Livestock: USDA NOP Publishes
Proposed Rule for Comment

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) has been promising clarification and rulemaking around an exemption to the rule that all dairy animals must be “under continuous organic management from the last third of gestation” for at least the last ten years. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on April 28, 2015. The USDA has given plenty of time for the organic community, stakeholders, and consumers to submit written comments on the proposed rule, with comments having to be submitted by July 27, 2015.
This proposed rule does provide clarity and a single standard for the one time exemption, with specificity on what the transitioned animals and their progeny can be used for. Under this proposal, the eligibility for a one-time transition is tied to the entity or producer that holds the organic certificate:

  • That farms on land that meets the definition of a dairy farm (which is defined as one lactating cow and a milking parlor)
  • Who manages their herd under organic management for at least a year, although they can feed crops from land that is in its third year of transition
  • The transition should be part of the operation’s organic system plan
  • Agrees to end the transition of the whole herd at the same time after one year

Essential points that NODPA will be proposing are:

  1. The Exemption that goes with the producer essentially means that any newly certified entity can get the one time exemption for establishing a whole herd using non-certified animals. What NODPA has proposed in the past is that the exemption is for the “responsibly connected person: Any person who is a partner, officer, director, holder, manager, or owner of 10 percent or more of the voting stock of an applicant or a recipient of certification or accreditation.” That would mean that it is a one time exemption and stops the same entity (producer/corporation) from setting up LLC’s as new start-ups.
  2. Transitioned animals cannot be sold as organic – the exemption is for the transition not to sell organic cows;
  3. Breeding stock cannot move in and out of organic production;
  4. The one time exemption should only apply to the transition of established conventional herds and not to start-ups.

To read more please click here.

NOSB Update

Jean Richardson Chair of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) article says, “By the time you read this article, the April meeting will be over … but the issues and questions that she raises are important for the future. She reminds us that, “In terms of numbers to be voted on at the October meeting in Vermont: Livestock will be presenting 42 substances for Sunset 2017 Review; Crops 43; and Handling 79. There will be substances of interest to NODPA members in all of these subcommittees.” She highlights the use Acidified Sodium Chlorite as a pre- and post-teat dip treatment (205.603 (a)) to provide an alternative to iodine based teat dips, and Zinc Sulfate for use as a footbath only (205.603(b)) plus there are 3 parasiticides up for Sunset Review to be voted on in October: Fenbenzadole, Ivermectin and Moxidectin. She also explains the process that the NOSB will follow to determine what can and cannot be used in organic production and asks some questions about what is needed in organic research. To read Jean’s article please click here.

For more information about the NOSB please go to: click here .

To learn what happened at the NOSB meeting please go to: OTA Report on NOSB   

Pay Price, Feed & Retail Price Update for May 2015: Organic Milk Feeding Frenzy

If you are in a position to move your milk to another processor, especially if you qualify for any grass-fed programs, you will find plenty of folks out there willing to buy your milk and most will give a sign-on incentive. Producers across the country are looking to move away from the national brands and change their buyers, mostly to more regionally based processors and cooperatives.  Processors are giving financial incentives for those thinking of transitioning to organic and there are reports of farms transitioning, especially in Vermont where there is active support and good business planning for those making the switch. One processor in New York is offering an incentive of $3 per hundred pounds for the final 12 months of transition plus $2.50 per hundred incentives for the first 3 months of organic production. Another is offering a $38 base price on organic (not grass fed). As Organic Valley is dropping some of its store brand contracts because of a shortage in supply, they are being picked up by more regional processors who need the customers to balance their branded product. Experienced producers are stressing the need for a higher long term base price, and a base pay price of $37 per hundred with quality and volume premiums bringing it closer to a farmgate price of $40 per hundred with no trucking costs, are increasingly common. To read more, please click here.

No Organic Checkoff.Com

Farmers and organizations concerned by the inequities of the proposed Organic Check-off have created a web page and Facebook page to help share their view and to educate everyone to the potential for discrimination against farmers and the misuse of funds generated by taxing farmers.  Farmers are particularly concerned that the tax on their income by the Organic Check-off will take money from their pockets to pay for yet another level of federal bureaucracy and provide support for corporate interest that are weakening the integrity of the organic seal. Organic certification is not a commodity. The OTA proposal will be voted on by a select group of organic certificate holders, should the USDA sanction the plan, but an organic checkoff will affect every level of the organic community. Please visit the web page and ‘like’ the Facebook page.  Visit and share these links with your friends! 

Remembering Richard and Robert Arnold, Twin Oaks Dairy, Truxton, NY

Brothers Robert (Bob) and Richard (Rick) Arnold, 30 year partners in Twin Oaks Dairy LLC in Truxton, NY, passed away earlier this year, both after years of formidable and courageous battles with frontotemporal degeneration (FTD). Bob, 69, passed away on January 18th, and Rick, 60, on April 11, both at their homes with family nearby. They farmed in partnership with Rick's wife, Kathie, from January, 1st, 1980 until October of 2010 when both Rick and Bob retired from the business because of their advancing FTD, and Kirk Arnold, son of Rick and Kathie, became Twin Oaks Dairy's new partner. Read more…


2015 NODPA Field Days, Oct. 1 & 2, 2015, Pavilion NY

The 15th annual NODPA Field Days that will be held in Pavilion, a western New York town outside of Rochester, in Genesee County between Geneseo and Batavia, on October 1 & 2, 2015. Our agenda is taking shape around the urgent question that the NODPA Board and Representatives have been asking: “What can we do now so that our children and grandchildren will want to be, and can be, full-time farmers?” So, as we develop the program, one emerging theme will be about organic dairy farming for the next generation.  We are fortunate to be able to visit one organic dairy farm that is already incorporating strategies that acknowledge the changing needs of their next generation. The Tillotson Family will host the farm tour at their multi-generational Cottonwood Farms, LLC, in Pavilion, NY. In addition to this theme, there will be information sessions, discussions and educational workshops that focus on the important and timely issues confronting all organic dairy farm families. Read more…

Farmers Union Scholarship
Looks to Agriculture's Future

Scholarship Deadline Extended to June 30, 2015

The education foundation of the New England Farmers Union is offering a $500 scholarship to a student who will study agriculture at a 2-year or 4-year accredited institution this fall. The scholarship enables Farmers Union to develop the next generation of farmer leaders who will succeed in agriculture and advocate for family farmers. The deadline has been extended to June 30, 2015.

Farmers Union is a member-driven organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for family farmers, fishermen, and their customers through educational opportunities, co-operative endeavors and civic engagement. It was founded in 2006 as a regional member of the National Farmers Union (NFU), an agricultural advocacy organization founded in 1902 and based in Washington, D.C.

Each applicant must be a Farmers Union member, or the child of a member, to qualify. Student memberships cost $25, and joining is easy on our website. Information about the scholarship, including the application, which is due June 30, 2015, is at:

The winner will be announced July 31. Other Farmers Union education initiatives include sending members each year to NFU's College Conference on Co-operatives, Beginning Farmer Institute, Legislative Fly-Ins to Washington, D.C., and an annual conference for women farmers.

Added April 8, 2015

Organic Trade Association (OTA) Published Version number 6 of their Organic Check-off proposal and some answers to NODPA Questions

An organic check-off will affect all organic certificate holders, from producers selling in farmers market to the board room of conglomerates. As such, all organic certificate holders should have a vote on establishing an organic check-off. This can be done by a proposal to the USDA AMS that assesses all organic certificate holders. IF a check-off is set up, the governing Board of the check-off will be appointed by the Secretary and will then set the level of assessments and opt-in/opt-out criteria as mandated by the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 (Generic Act).
The current proposal by OTA will restrict voting rights to establish a check off to self-determined (especially in mixed operations that market directly to wholesalers or through several handlers) economic criteria and those that choose to ask for a certificate to OPT-IN to the check-off. There will be no central list to verify and validate who qualifies to meet these criteria. All those that want to vote would have to apply for a ballot and receive it by mail. All these criteria and processes will restrict who votes in a referendum and, given the economic demographics of organic certificate holders there may well be less than 30% of certificate holders eligible to vote, you would only need 51% of those that vote out of the 30% to establish an organic check-off. This may mean that a tiny percentage of certificate holders will establish an organic check-off.
Other points from Version 6 of the OTA proposal:

  • Assessed entities: No $100 dollar annual membership. Under the new proposal all certificate holders (except retailers) are covered by the order/check-off. There are no exemptions from the order/check-off. There are two types of assessments; one is voluntary and one is mandatory. For those under $250,000 gross organic revenue the assessment will be voluntary and under the OTA proposal they will have to opt in prior to any referendum on setting up a check-off in order to vote. OTA defines gross organic revenue as “total gross sales in organic products.” Organic producers with over $250,000 in self-declared gross organic revenue are mandatorily assessed and shall have the option of paying one-tenth of one percent of either (A) net organic sales or (B) producer net profit. Net profit and net organic sales will be self-declared and paid directly to the Board by the individual producer. Approximately 70% of certificate holders are under the $250,000 threshold and will have to opt in to vote on setting up an organic check-off.
  • Opt-in: Those organic producers who choose to opt in would need to do it on an annual basis.
  • Definitions: OTA’s definition of net organic sales: means total gross sales in organic products minus the cost of certified organic ingredients, feed, and inputs used in the production of organic products.  And producer net profit: means organic producer income received from organic products less the associated production expenses excluding fixed non-cash costs. So many questions on what these may mean - how these can be verified, and by whom - this isn't currently in certifier documents, nor income tax, nor FSA reporting.  Will organic dairy farmers who grow their own feed be allowed to deduct full feed cost (including the rent of land – cash cost), as if they had purchased all of it?
  • Exemption from conventional check-off $: The majority of organic dairy/corn/soybean producers would have to opt in to the organic check-off on an annual basis to avoid paying into the conventional check-off at the higher rates. Once the organic check-off is set up there will be no exemptions from paying into the conventional check-off program.
  • Retailers will not be assessed.
  • Spending Check-off Taxes: With the change in producer assessments to a net farm income model, the current projection is closer to $30- 35 million per year in total income to the check-off program instead of the $40 million previously projected at the outset. IF $30 million is raised, $4.5 million will go to the Board to administer the program and pay salaries; $4 million will go to administer the grants using check-off monies that the Board will recommend; an undetermined amount of the $21.5 million that’s left will be paid to USDA AMS to run the program and collect assessments (there is no cap on this). This will leave ¼ of what is left to go to research, approximately a maximum of $5 million.
  • Imports will be assessed at the same rate as all other organic operations. For imports, for which there is a Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code, the assessment will be paid by the organic importer to Customs at the time of entry into the United States, and shall be remitted by Customs to the Board. For imports, for which there is not a HTS code (the majority of organic imports), the assessment will be self-declared and voluntarily paid directly to the Board.
  • Check-off Board: OTA proposes that the governing Board will be 17. One Board seat will be reserved for those producers that fall under the $250,000 in gross organic revenue exemption level (approximately 70% of producers). Seven Board seats will be reserved for producers with over $250,000 in gross organic revenue from different regions (2 from California), by definition large operations. The OTA defines the northeast which has one Board member as the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. There will be five seats for organic handlers; two for organic product processors; one for organic importers and one at-large member. The producer members will be nominated by each region in a structure that will be expensive to administer and difficult to ensure accountability and transparency. The assumption is that that process the regions use for nominating Board members for appointment by the Secretary will either be paid for by the Board from check-off dollars or be part of the work that USDA AMS will be paid for from check-off dollars.
  • When will there be a proposal: It is OTA’s goal to submit a proposal to USDA within the first half of 2015, although we hear from a source at USDA that they have received a draft proposal for consideration.

For the full draft of OTA’s reply to NODPA, please go to:

OTA's Reply

Free Speech and Prohibited Messaging

The Limits to Promotional Activities for Federal Check-off Money

The suggestion that organic check-off funds will be used to promote organics is one of the biggest arguments the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is using in their attempt to convince the organic community that their check-off proposal is a good idea.

However, as experience with other commodity check-off programs has demonstrated, there are severe restrictions and requirements attached to any promotional messages.  These include prohibitions on:

  1. Promotions that disparage another agricultural commodity.
  2. Any action that would be a conflict of interest.
  3. Promotions which are not generic.
  4. Using funds to influence governmental action or policy – NOSB or NOP.

For more on this please download the attached article:

Checkoff Restrictions Document

National Organic Coalition's
Pre-NOSB Meeting

Sunday, April 26, 2015  - 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
San Diego Marriott La Jolla,  4240 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

Thank you to the co-hosts for this meeting, CCOF and Center for Food Safety!

Meeting Goal:
To provide a forum for productive engagement around critical issues for diverse stakeholders in the organic community


9:30 – 10:45 Introductions, Ground Rules, & NOC history
10:45 – 11:45 DC Update on Organic Policy - with Steve Etka, Policy Director, National Organic Coalition
11:45 – 12:00 International Update - with Peggy Miars, Executive Director, Organic Materials Review Institute and member of IFOAM World Board 
12:00 – 1:30       LUNCH   (on your own)
1:30 – 2:00 GMO Contamination Prevention -   with Zea Sonnabend, Policy Specialist, CCOF and NOSB member
2:00 – 3:30 Organic Poultry Standards
3:30 – 4:45 Conversation with Mile McEvoy, Deputy Administrator, National Organic Program
4:45 – 5:15 NOP Biodiversity Guidance -   with Jo Ann Baumgartner, Director, Wild Farm Alliance
5:15 – 5:30 Closing


Added March 10, 2015

NODPA Regional Round-Up

Want to know what’s happening or what is important in the organic dairy industry – ask those that farm. Producers from Maine to Pennsylvania to Wisconsin give some insights into what is important to them during this long winter of 2015.  Perhaps Leon Corse from Vermont best sums up the feelings of most producers, and consumers, this year in the northeast, “We are really looking forward to spring.” For the complete article please go to:


Feed and Pay Prices: Pay price
moves up slowly as sales increase
and shortages continue

USDA AMS reports increase in retail sales of organic fluid milk in 2014 were up by 9.2% over sales in 2013, and total U.S. organic milk products’ sales as a percentage of total conventional milk products’ sales has trended up annually, from 1.92% in 2006 to 5.2% in 2014. This increase in demand has seen shortages on the shelves and a small increase in base pay price. How do you increase the volume of organic milk, feed or any other raw material – raise the price that producers are paid.  Over 60% of organic grains that are used in the US are imported and now we have imported organic cheese and milk powder plus imported beef manufactured trim from three continents co-mingled to make generically branded organic ground beef. The reason for the importation is partly due to availability and partly on price. The availability is great for organic ground beef from organic cull cows available in the US, but it is easier and cheaper to import beef manufacture trim from Australia. If the organic pay price for grains were higher, there would be more grain producers transitioning to organic. Consumers are paying more for organic because they believe the products are better for them and that they benefit their environment. With imports driving the expansion of organics and either driving down pay prices or preventing prices from rising enough to sustain US organic producers, it is unlikely we will see a growth in organic production, especially as the early pioneers of organic processing sell out to large conglomerates who only have one bottom line – profits for their shareholders. For more on pay price and charts on the growth of real organic sales, please go to:


Book Review

A Holistic Vet’s Prescription for a Healthy Herd, by Richard J Holliday,
DVM and Jim Helfter

By Geneva Perkins, Contributing Writer

Our world today is bombarded with new drugs, new herbicides and pesticides, new soil amendments that promise to cure, kill and repair all the woes and miseries that afflict us and the livestock that we depend upon for our livelihood.  Richard “Doc” Holliday and Jim Helfter draw from their years of combined experience in treating and studying animals to provide an introduction to holistic livestock care.

The key word here is holistic.  By studying the change in feeding habits of the bison roaming hundreds of acres with a veritable smorgasbord of nutrients to the modern confined living conditions with limited or no choice of food, the authors show the effects of imbalanced nutrition on livestock health and productivity.  The book builds the case that conventional care focuses on treatment of specific symptoms and prevention of specific illnesses, while holistic treatment can involve a variety of approaches, including nutrition and alternative therapy.  While acknowledging that sometimes the use of antibiotics is necessary, their experience has shown that a healthy, well cared for animal is more likely to stay healthy even when exposed to disease.

The book is broken down into three sections: Holistic Animal Health and Nutrition, Trace Minerals and Free-Choice Mineral Programs, and Holistic Herd Management.

To read the complete review by Geneva Perkins please click here.

Preparing for Spring:
A Pre-Turnout Checklist

By Susan Beal, DVM

Sitting here, listening to the wind roaring through the hemlock grove behind my wee house, with the temperature solidly below zero and several feet of snow piled up, even in the protected timber, it seems odd to be writing about spring turnout.  While we know that the land is still percolating under the snow cover, and we see the lengthening days, on days like today it can be difficult to envision the perennial miracle of the return of grass.

If you’ve not already put some thought into it, this is a great time of year to jot down a few notes and make a checklist to ensure you’re ready for turnout.  That time will come quickly – and will be sooner for some than for others. Here in Pennsylvania, the differences between the northwestern and southeastern corners of the state are incredible – with turnout varying between late March and mid- May. Some graziers (primarily beef herds) have been able to extend their grazing season into late January (even here in the west central region). To read more of Susan’s idea and suggestions please go to:


Webcast of U.S. Department of Agriculture Stakeholder Workshop on Coexistence

The USDA is hosting a Stakeholder Workshop on Coexistence on March 12th and 13th for a select group of folks they have identified as stakeholders, with an agenda that is very slanted to benefit the chemical companies, although they are responding to criticism about their choice of stakeholders by inviting producers a week before the event.  This is one of the most important issues of the day for all, not just organic farmers, that do not want their crops contaminated by genetically engineered genes. It is common sense and established legal practice that if your land, livestock or crops are contaminated by another entity, then that entity bears responsibility for paying for any damage – if your neighbor’s bull jumps the fence and impregnates your cows, the neighbor is responsible for any damage or financial hardship. GE crops are produced under license so the patent holder is responsible for any financial hardship, not your neighbor who is using it, since he/she is prevented from owning that seed by the patent holder. USDA has suggested that farmers having crop insurance may be a method to compensate for lost income from contamination, but it would be a difficult and probably expensive policy to underwrite and not appropriate for the situation. Chemical companies that hold the patent should be the ones that take out insurance to cover contamination caused by their product. It will be interesting to see what emerges from the workshop and whether any recommendations recognize the reality of the responsibility.

Webcast, as well as audio call-in, information is as follows:
DAY 1 - March 12, 2015 @ 8:30 a.m. ET
For Webcast Link,
Click Here

Dial-in: 1-888-621-9649 or 1-617-231-2734
Event ID: 419052
DAY 2 – March 13, 2015@8:30 a.m. ET
For Webcast Link,
Click Here
Dial-in: 1-888-621-9649 or 1-617-231-2734
Event ID: 419053

For dial-in participants, you may join the teleconference 5 minutes prior to the scheduled start. If you need technical support please call AT&T Connect Support at 1-888-796-6118. If you require a list of international dial-in numbers, click here.


Added February 10, 2015

anti-check-off logo

Say No to Setting Up
An Organic Check-Off

Say Yes to permanently exempting all organically certified operations from paying into federal mandatory check-off programs

Tell the USDA: You Support the Organic Exemption from Federal Check-off Programs – Comment by February 17th 2015

The 2014 Farm Bill allows all organic farmers and businesses to pull assessed monies out of conventional check-off programs. In December, the USDA issued proposed rules to set this process up. 

A strong response from organic farmers and businesses will let the USDA know this exemption is important to organic agriculture, and these rules need to be put in place as quickly as possible. The instructions below will guide you on how to submit comments.  Here are talking points:

  • These rules give the same opportunity to farms and businesses with split operations (organic and non-organic) as 100% organic operations were granted in the 2002 Farm Bill to request a refund on organic sales assessments.  This change corrects unequal treatment of organic certificate holders set by the 2002 Farm Bill.
  • This exemption will provide a level playing field. It allows organically certified farmers and handlers to use check-off monies to benefit their own operations and future, similar to the benefit that non-organic operations receive from being assessed under the Commodity Promotion Law. 
  • Organics is less than 5% of agricultural production and requires very specific research and marketing.  Farmers and handlers carry out a high percentage of direct-to-consumer and other marketing, or conduct research on their own farms.
  • The exemption process should be as efficient as possible. Information on certified organic operations is now available in real time so certificate holders should only need to apply once for an exemption from the check-off, not every year.  Commodity boards can be informed by the NOP when the operation loses its organic certification.
  • Organics should have a blanket exemption from all Research and Promotion programs.
  • For Marketing Orders, the organic exemption should be the marketing portion average of all AMS Marketing Orders.

Comments must be postmarked no later than February 17, 2015. They can be electronically submitted at:!documentDetail;

For more information please go to:


Seeking Farmers for
Farm Succession Project

Is planning for retirement and the future of your farm on your “to do” list? Would you be willing to share your ideas and concerns about your farm transition? If you are a senior operator, the junior generation, or a beginning organic dairy farmer with ideas and concerns about how organic dairies will be passed on please read on.

The farm succession conundrum
Of all the daily challenges that organic dairy farmers grapple with, farm succession is not usually on the list. It’s easier to put off planning for that unsettled future, and to avoid uncomfortable subjects like death and taxes. But we all know that the future of the farm is a concern for most farmers. A new project led by Land For Good (LFG) will give the organic farm transition “conundrum” focused attention and support. LFG is a New England nonprofit organization that specializes in farm access and transfer. Its organic farm succession project will investigate organic dairy farmers’ unique dilemmas and opportunities in transition planning. Supported by grants from Organic Valley’s Farmers Advocating for Organics Fund and the Clif Bar Family Foundation, LFG will hold discussion groups and conduct interviews with organic dairy farmers across New England to develop better strategies to help farmers address farm succession. To read more, click here.

Preventing and Treating Pneumonia

Hue Karreman starts his article with the best common sense, and least expensive, way of preventing pneumonia (and many other respiratory complaints), “Yes! Fresh air and dry bedding make for healthy animals.” This time of year, with very variable weather patterns and stress on housing, the problems with maintaining a healthy herd, especially among young stock, is always an immediate concern for livestock producers. For a comprehensive article on preventing and treating pneumonia, click here.

Dr. Hubert Karreman Presents:
A series of classes on bovine health

On Tues March 10th and Wednesday March 11th, Dr. Hubert Karreman will be teaching his third class on in-depth health care strategies for organic dairy cows at the Rodale Institute. It is a two-day class from 9am-5pm. Participants will be in the classroom in the mornings and in the afternoon will be working hands-on with the cows, right next door at our neighbor's 65 cow certified organic dairy farm. The class is filling up so make your reservations soon. For more details and to sign up, click here.

For more details, please be in touch with Hubert Karreman, VMD, Adjunct Veterinarian at Rodale Institute, 717-405-8137.

Recent Odairy Discussions

The ODairy email list serve hosts robust discussions on many different issues, some practical, some on policy, some on politics and some just exchanging news on the organic community. We heard from Dr. Hue Karreman about the long expected death of Jerry Brunetti, who contributed so much to the growth of organics. On the NODPA website we have many pictures of Jerry at work and at play, especially in the photo-archives of our Field Days. He will be missed. For a reflection on his life, please click here.

ODairy is blessed by having so many committed veterinarians experienced in organic production who take an active part in the discussions on the list serve. There is no one way to solve a health problem in organic production but there was plenty of good advice on how to deal with mastitis. There was also a spirited discussion on methionine role in organic production plus suggestions on how to work with certifiers in making decisions on what can be used in organic livestock production.

Also, Odairy is a great place to advertise animals for sale and organic feed that is available.

To read a summary of Odairy activities, please go to the article by Liz Bawden, Organic Dairy Farmer and NODPA President. You can also join the active and informative email list serve clicking here.

Added January 15, 2015

Organic Dairy:
Forecasts for 2015 and Beyond

What does Kevin Engelbert, John Bobbe, Andrew Dykstra, Sharad Mathur, Harriet Behar, Mike Davies, Bruce Drinkman, Miles McEvoy and Andre Brito have in common? As part of our January edition of the NODPA News they shared their perspective on the future of organic dairy from their own point of view. We invited these leaders of organic dairy from different backgrounds and occupations in order to have a variety of perspectives to share with you. We had no editorial control and did not edit their submissions. To read their interesting and unique ideas please go to:


And, to read  Mary Howell and Klaas Martens’ thoughts on the New York Times’ Food for Tomorrow conference, click here:


National Organic Standards Board Update

Jean Richardson, Chair National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) gives an update on what is happening at the Board and the USDA NOP since the last meeting of the Board in Kentucky last November, 2014. Jean continues to share the work of the Board in easy to understand language and gives an insight into what the NOP is doing to strengthen the integrity of the organic seal, plus, did you know that Miles McEvoy goes bird watching in his spare time? To read her complete article, please go to:


Profitability Declines slightly in 2013

That is the headline from Bob Parsons, UVM Extension, from his ongoing study on the profitability of organic dairying in Vermont. This study on the economics of organic dairy involved 34 Vermont dairy farms for the 2013 tax year, found that Return on Assets (ROA) dropped from 1.82% to 1.60%. The study was conducted with the cooperation of the University of Vermont Extension, NOFA-Vermont, Vermont organic dairy farmers, and the generous financial support from Stonyfield Farms, Morrison Custom Feeds, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Green Mountain Feeds, and Yankee Farm Credit. Bob writes, “In conclusion, organic farms are getting by. Organic is not the road to riches for many; however it has been a key vehicle of survival for many of the smaller farms who likely would be out of business if they had not had the option to go organic. Higher milk prices are needed but can the market absorb a higher price without losing consumer demand? So while the coming years likely will not see an immediate loss of organic dairy farms, there should be concern for long run viability and sustainable and healthy supply of organic milk from Vermont farms. Without a higher price, organic dairy farms have only the same options they had available when on the conventional treadmill; add more cows and produce more milk per cow to meet rising expenses.” To read the complete article and view the data collected please go to:


Pay Price Update: Pay price moves up slowly as sales increase and shortages continue

It looks like 2015 will be the year when processors start to recognize the realities of organic dairy production and the steady growth of demand in the retail market based on quality and production preference. As competition for the milk supply increases, regional buyers of organic milk are becoming more aggressive, with many different incentives available for those that want to switch processors. While an increasing part of the pay price is still the MAP, which can be taken away at the discretion of the processor, the base price has increased and CROPP has made the calculation of their pay price more understandable. To find out what the processors are paying and for a history of demand and supply please go to:


Added December 1, 2014

US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) publishes its unified agenda for Fall 2014: Busy time for NOP and AMS

The Agriculture Department's National Organic Program is going to be one of the busiest food or agriculture agencies in the year ahead, based on the schedule published in the Unified Agenda. Besides the origin of livestock rules (see abstract below), the NOP plans to release aquaculture standards in February, pet food standards by the end of April and apiculture standards in July.

USDA NOP Origin of Livestock with a proposed rule projected to be published in December 2014 with final action in May 2016:

Proposed Rule Abstract: The current regulations provide two tracks for replacing dairy animals which are tied to how dairy farmers transition to organic production. Farmers who transition an entire distinct herd must thereafter replace dairy animals with livestock that has been under organic management from the last third of gestation. Farmers who do not transition an entire distinct herd may perpetually obtain replacement animals that have been managed organically for 12 months prior to marketing milk or milk products as organic. The proposed action would eliminate the two-track system and require that upon transition, all existing and replacement dairy animals from which milk or milk products are intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be managed organically from the last third of gestation. Continuation of the two-track system jeopardizes the viability of the market for organic heifers. A potential risk associated with the rulemaking would be a temporary supply shortage of dairy replacement animals due to the increased demand.

As mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill the USDA AMS is aiming to publish a proposed rule to change the commodity promotion law to exempt all organic certificate holders from paying into any commodity check-offs (see abstract below). The proposed rule is already late (missing its legal deadline of 11/30/14) and final action is not projected until next fall. The Organic Trade Association is set to send a proposal to USDA AMS for a mandatory federal organic check-off which means producers may be able to get their money back in time to lose it again when their exemption is taken away with an organic check-off.

Exemption of Producers and Handlers of Organic Products From Assessment Under a Commodity Promotion Law. USDA AMS Marketing Order Administration Branch projected that the proposed rule would be published in November 2014 and final action is projected for July 2015.

Proposed Rule Abstract: As a result of this action, certified "organic" commodities (those comprising at least 95 percent organic components) would no longer be subject to assessment for promotion activities conducted under marketing order or research and promotion programs. In addition, certified organic commodities that are produced, handled, marketed, or imported by operations that also deal in conventional products would be eligible for exemptions. Currently, only products that are certified "100 percent organic" and that are produced and handled by entities that deal exclusively with organic products are exempt from assessments. This action is expected to reduce the assessment obligation for organic industry operators by as much as $13.7 million. Conversely, the impact on the marketing programs will be a loss of approximately $13.7 million in funds for generic commodity promotions.

Busy Time for Organic
Trade Association (OTA):

From OTA’s website: “At the September 17 meeting, the OTA Board voted to move forward to prepare and submit an application to USDA to initiate an industry referendum on an organic research and promotion order.”  The OTA seems to assume that the USDA AMS will approve their as-yet-unpublished proposal for a mandatory federal check-off program as having enough support from the organic community to hold a referendum of those that will be assessed. We do not yet know who will be assessed, what the rate will be, how it will be collected, and many other aspects of the proposal which has gone through a few iterations by a select group of folks appointed by OTA to an internal OTA committee.

OTA should have held a referendum of all organic certificate holders as to whether they want an organic check-off before they proceed to send a proposal to USDA. With all the many pieces of fancy literature and personal phone calls they have financed to promote their ideas, OTA could have used some of those funds to pay an independent entity to perform a referendum on a simple yes/no on whether we need a federal mandated organic check-off /tax. Those organizations that are holding their own referendum of their producer members have had a resounding no to setting up an organic check-off.

ODairy Discussions:

“Diagnosed with gangrene mastitis, a cow had to euthanized.  The farmer described the sudden onset of symptoms, and asked the group for suggestions on how to prevent this from happening again.  A vet on this list responded that there are essentially two causes of gangrene mastitis - either Clostridium or Staph aureus.  Clostridium is a quick killer; it is characterized by a low fever (102.7 to 102.9).  It is a soil borne organism, and is one of those rare things that you see every 20 years or so.  It is definitely not contagious.  The Staph aureus type is characterized by a high fever (105 or so).  It is called "blue bag" in sheep, and is fairly treatable with antibiotics, and the udder won't slough off as it does with the Clostridial type when treated quickly with penicillin.”

NODPA President and New York producer Liz Bawden summarizes what has happened on the Odairy List Serve in her latest regular column, which can be found at:


Want to be part of the discussion? Join Odairy, a free, moderated list serve supported by NODPA at:


Letters and Comments

Disagree with what you’ve read in the NODPA News, Enewsletter or on the web? Think that we have the wrong angle on what is happening or the best production practices? Then please write and let us know, either at or An article in the July-August edition of NODPA News about the Madre method of calf rearing caused Michelle Benrud to question the basis of Paul Van Amburgh’s assumptions and conclusions about what he was practicing on his farm, and the economic reality behind the practices. To read Michelle’s letter and Paul’s and Phyllis’ reply please go to:


On The Road Again: Five Danes in a Van

What do you get when you put two Pennsylvanians and five Danish farmers and organic advisors - and all their gear - in a Chevy van and head out to get the scoop on the state of grass based dairy, Holistic Management and planned grazing in the Northeast?

Well ….. lots of miles (1190 between Sunday evening and Friday night), lots of farms (a dozen), lots of amazing and generous farmers, lots of livestock (cattle of all classes and colors, poultry, sheep and hogs), some glorious scenery and examples of the vast variety of land and farming practices in the region, not much sleep – and amazing experiences, buckets of laughter, and the foundation of friendships and collaborations that are sure to span the years. To read the full article by Susan Beal please go to:


Environment and Behavior:
Biodiversity and Cattle Wellbeing

Today, many people are seeking to understand the complex interactions involved in food production and their implications for both environmental sustainability and human health. Juan Alvez from the University of Vermont and a group of colleagues wondered in particular about the connections between soil biodiversity, forages, animal health and human health. 

In 2012, their research team embarked on a collaborative, long-term study focused on assessing how ecologic habitat disruption is associated with livestock wellbeing and health, and how those in turn impact human wellbeing. With a wider lens, they rapidly concluded that these elements do not exist in isolation. Numerous researchers emphasize (and the team at University of Vermont preliminary data support) that agriculture both receives and provides a diverse array of benefits from healthy ecosystems, while also imposing dis-services when disrupted. To read Juan Alvez full article please go to:


Support NODPA – Now in its 13th Year of working for organic dairy farm families

Have you received your NODPA Fundraising letter yet? If not, it should be in your mailbox any day. When it arrives, we hope you will consider all the ways NODPA works for Organic Dairy farm families and those who support the industry, and send in your check, cash or credit card payment as soon as possible. And, if you already support NODPA through a monthly Milk Check Assignment or during NODPA’s Field Days, we say thanks!

Worried about what the “suits” in Washington DC are up to? NODPA is the only independent organic dairy farmer controlled organization that represents your interest and can keep you informed of what is happening before it is too late to act. We stood up for producer interests with the OTA organic check-off and will continue to do so in the future.

NODPA provides a wide range of resources and services, such as hosting and moderating the Odairy list serve, publishing the print newsletter (NODPA News) 6-times per year, monthly e-newsletter, website, annual Field Days, and advocacy on behalf of all organic dairy farm families through membership in the National Organic Coalition. We keep costs to a minimum but there are still bills to pay. We know you depend on NODPA for the latest organic dairy news and education and that your support is a vote for the work we do.

To contribute to NODPA please go to:

NODPA Fund Drive

Added November 17, 2014

Upbeat NOSB Meeting in Kentucky

Dr. Jean Richardson, Chair NOSB:
The NOSB meeting was held in Louisville Kentucky from October 27-30. It was an upbeat meeting where everyone seemed to feel that their issues were heard and discussed on the record. 
Since the April meeting the NOSB has worked quietly to strengthen the public role again and improve collaboration with the NOP.  Here are my Opening Comments:


Regional Round-up from
Organic Dairy Producers

The NODPA state reps and Board have regular conference calls to discuss the direction of NODPA and issues affecting organic dairy. During these calls producers exchange information about what is happening in their region. Producers at the recent NODPA Field Days suggested that we develop that exchange of information into a regular column in the NODPA News. We welcome any updates or views from producers and the date for sending regional updates to Ed Maltby ( or Nora Owens ( ) for the next NODPA News is December 20, 2014. To read this month’s regional update please go to:


Pay, retail and feed price
for November 2014

In the Northeast, competition for milk supply is increasing, with expansion plans by established and new processors who are looking for more producers in certain geographic areas. There are reports that supermarket shelves are empty and/or under supplied. With the current high costs of inputs causing some drop in production, some reduction in herd size because of a high cull beef price, and producers leaving organic production, the supply of organic milk is not increasing enough to satisfy the increase in demand. Producers have changed production practices and economized on inputs and the only way to increase supply is to increase the base pay price to give producers’ confidence in long term profitability. With an average growth rate of 7-8% a year in fluid sales and increasing demand for organic dairy in manufactured products, now would be the time for organic buyers to schedule higher base pay prices for the next few years as, with higher profits for conventional producers, it makes it easier to transition to organic production as the cost of transition would be less than it has been. To read more and see the charts showing the trends over the last 6 years:


Odairy Live! Ask the Vets: Q & A

A NODPA Field Days Panel with Dr. Hubert Karreman and Dr. Cynthia Lankenau moderated by NODPA President Liz Bawden.
This workshop session at the NODPA Field Days was very educational so we thought we’d print a summary from notes taken by Lisa McCrory. To read the article, please go to:


NODPA 14 Annual Field Days and Annual Meeting

To read a full article on the very successful 2014 Field Days complete with photos please go to:


Lisa McCrory leaving her position as NODPA’s Newsletter and Website Editor

Lisa McCrory has been a part of NODPA since its founding meeting in 2001 and through her work with NOFA VT was the NODPA coordinator for the next 3 years. She has continued working for NODPA as a newsletter and website editor for the last 10 years as the publications grew in quality and appeal. She has decided to stop working for NODPA as of November 15 but will continue to be involved as a producer member, continuing to share her knowledge and skills with the organic dairy community. Her work and dedication will be missed by us all as she has been a valued and skilled colleague helping NODPA grow in influence and as a resource for organic dairy farm families and the organic community. Her work and contribution was honored at the 2014 Field Days and to read her parting words please go to:


Added October 8, 2014

Summary: What Happened at the NODPA 14th Annual Field Days

The message from organic producers and their families at the 14th Field Days was:

  1. The shortage in supply of organic milk is a great opportunity to push the pay price up to help offset high cost of inputs,
  2. The Organic Trade Organization does not represent producers,
  3. NODPA producers voted to oppose a federally mandated check-off – unanimously.

The NODPA Field Days, which were held in the last week of September, took place in the bucolic setting of Stonewall Farm which has a remarkable building, a unique and very relevant mission, and some wonderful staff. All of these aspects made for a great event that some said was the best NODPA Field Days ever. The tour of the Farm, rich in diversity, was very informative and mirrored some of the many ways that organic dairy farms can thrive in the future, including a new mini combine that immediately had the male producers swarming all over it when it was started up.

The Commissioner of Agriculture for New Hampshire, Lorraine S. Merrill, dropped in on Thursday afternoon to welcome the group to New Hampshire and the Stonewall Farm. The keynote speakers for the evening were Miles McEvoy, National Organic Program Deputy Administrator, and Jean Richardson, the new Chair of the National Organic Standards Board, who joined past NODPA President Henry Perkins in a diverse and rich presentation of how unique the national Organic Program is and the important role that producers play in its future.    

This summary cannot do justice to the in depth information shared at all the workshops and session during the two day event. The “Ask the Vets: Q and A” was as lively as ever with Hue Karreman and Cindy Lankenau complementing each other very well. They continued after lunch with a two hour session with hands on education in the dairy barn - which was too short.  Guided by Dr. Hue Karreman, attendees worked on selected cows to perform a physical exam and some emergency techniques; and Dr. Lankenau demonstrated acupuncture and chiropractic care on an aged cow while discussing her use of herbal medicine - the cow most definitely appreciated the session!

The workshop sessions ‘Maximizing farm income’, ‘Planning for the next generation’, and ‘Creating a sustainable farming future’ were presented by national leaders of programs that have a proven track record and provided relevant and detailed information.

There was an excellent panel discussion of grass-fed dairy.  Peter Miller, a representative from Organic Valley, discussed the launching of "Grassmilk" in response to consumer demand. Sarah Flack, a grazing expert from Vermont, discussed her preliminary research on how farms with grass-fed herds are doing and Cliff Hawbaker, a PA producer of grass-fed milk, added his experiences in this style of production. The interest in grass-fed milk was reflected by the number of presenters on the panel, and the keen interest expressed by the attendees. Producers were not just looking for details on the higher pay price, but how they can maintain healthy cows while meeting the requirement of grass-fed labels.   

The only glitch in the prefect planning of NODPA’s event planner, Nora Owens, was the weather.  She failed to deliver overcast skies and rain and instead it was the best and most prolonged harvesting weather of the year - which meant many producers had to attend to their prime responsibility of harvesting winter feed. Despite that fact, we had good attendance from a diverse representation of the organic dairy stakeholders and great sharing of information.

For a slideshow of images from the Field Days, go to:


A more detailed summary of the NODPA Field Days will appear in the November/December NODPA News.

Feed and Pay Price

There are new processors who are looking for milk and that has increased competition which is starting to increase pay price. Horizon confirmed that they will be initiating a winter feed premium of $1 for the period of Oct 1 through Dec 31, and will be adding an additional $1 on the MAP effective Oct 1 through at least June 31, 2015. 

There has been an increase in the number of dairies looking for organic milk which include the following:

  1. Maple Hill Creamery
  2. Trickling Springs Creamery - $32.75 base, $2.50 for BF above 3.2%.
  3. Byrne Dairy (Syracuse, NY) – built a yogurt plant in Cortland, NY and are willing to pay $40 per hundred for those within easy shipping distance
  4. Natural By Nature
  5. Upstate Niagara has been having solicitation meeting in upstate New York and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont
  6. Chiobani
  7. Sunrise Dairy (yogurt)
  8. Stonyfield Farm
  9. Common Wealth Dairy (Brattleboro) is considering going organic – (yogurt)

Organic chicken is continuing to drive prices up for organic grain. Expect to see corn prices at $525-550/ton in the Northeast with no sign that prices will drop as more imports come into the country.


Recent ODairy Discussions

Liz Bawden, Organic Dairy Farmer and NODPA President reported that there were “Robust discussions about eye injuries, constipation and bloating, organic grain supply in the Northeast, a debate about 100% grass-fed, and more” on ODairy in the last few months. If you ever wondered about what to do about a screw-in fence insulator that somehow a cow had got stuck in its eye them the dedicated veterinarians that subscribe to Odairy had some answers to how to remove it. Homeopathic remedies are also popular topics of discussion as producers build their toolkit of alternative health care remedies to complement their existing herd health practices. The current hot topic in organic dairy is “What is grass-fed” because it can bring up to $5 per hundred in increased pay price, but there are many different propriety definition plus a newly published standard from Pennsylvania Certified Organic.

For more details on all these discussions read Liz’ article at odairy_oct6_100614.shtml.

NODPA launches its Second Annual Fundraising Campaign:

Do you want to support balance in organic decision-making by ensuring that producers have a voice? NODPA provides that with its bimonthly print newsletter; it’s ODairy Listserv; it’s annual Field Days; its comprehensive and regularly updated website and its membership of the National Organic Coalition, National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition and Accredited Certifiers Association. NODPA takes producer concerns to Washington, to industry, to the media and to consumers and environmental groups and, as an independent organization; it acts as a voice for all producers in a marketplace dominated by industry. We keep costs to a minimum but there are still bills to pay. NODPA’s first fundraising campaign in 2013 was moderately successful and we ask you to send in your donation today to support all of these resources and services that we all need and value.  “NODPA supporters are dedicated organic farmers and industry professionals; hard-working, committed to the principles of organic farming and focused on operating their businesses in the most efficient and informed way possible,” said organic dairy producer and NODPA Board President, Liz Bawden, “We work long hours and have come to expect reliable information delivered in the most convenient manner possible, and NODPA delivers.” Watch out for more information coming your way.

You can donate online at:

Please contact Nora Owens at or call 413-427-7166 if you have questions or need assistance. Thank you for your support.

Added September 8, 2014

Interview with NOSB Chair,
Jean Richardson

We are very fortunate to have Dr. Jean Richardson join us at the 2014 NODPA Field Days this year. Jean has a wealth of skills and experience that made her a perfect choice to join the National Organic Standards Board in January 2012 in the ‘Public Interest’ slot. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is a 15 member advisory board that helps set standards for the National Organic Program. In May, 2014, Jean was elected Chair of the NOSB. NODPA thought it would be nice for our readers to get to know Jean a little better. Read our interview with Jean and join us September 25th and 26th, at Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH, where you can meet her in person! Click here for the full interview:


Revoke Changes To Sunset Provision - Letter to the Congressional Organic Caucus from consumer cooperatives

The signatures to the letter are from both large and small coops across the country, representing many thousands of the most committed organic purchasers. These are the consumers that continued to purchase organic products during the economic downturn and can justifiably
be called the backbone of the USDA organic brand. The first paragraph says it all: “We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to ask you to advocate reversal of USDA’s unilateral changes to the organic program’s Sunset Provision. We believe these changes violate the intent and the letter of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA).” NODPA welcomes and supports this initiative which is well written and clearly states the issues. To read the whole letter please download the PDF at: Dear Organic Caucus FINAL SIGN ON 090114.pdf

Preventive Practices To Maintain
Animal Health

NODPA is excited to have Dr. Cynthia Lankenau as part of our 2014 NODPA Field Days this year. An internationally recognized practitioner of Veterinary Acupuncture, Acupressure, and Chiropractics, Dr Lankenau has a Holistic veterinary practice, servicing large and small animals, in Colden, New York. She received her education from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 1981, has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 33 years and Holistic medicine for 21 years. Dr. Lankenau is a firm believer in preventive practices for maintaining healthy animals. To read her interview with Lisa McCrory, NODPA News editor, please go to:


“What I’ve learned from farmers using zero-grain dairy rations”

Sarah Flack, Organic & Grass-Based Livestock Consultant, will be sharing her knowledge and experience at the NODPA Field Days on what she has learned from producers that use zero-grain rations. With increased demand for milk that qualifies to be sold as “grass-fed”, many producers are looking at the economic advantages and production challenges that marketing under this label requires. Other farms have made the transition to zero-grain more rapidly, due to financial pressures caused by high grain costs and in some situations, due to unpaid grain bills. There are also a number of farms that transitioned to zero-grain 7 to 10 years ago, and continue to find it works well for them.  Sarah has written an article that puts together a couple of decades of ideas, suggestions and observations from farms that have tried zero-grain dairy rations. To read the article, please go to:


Tackling Farm Entry and Exit Challenges

“Farm entry and exit are flip sides of the same coin. We need to pay attention to both, and solutions for one side of the coin can offer solutions to the other.” This is howKathy Ruhf sums up the challenges of generational transfer and providing qualified producers to continue to farm. Kathy is the executive director of Land For Good, where she has worked since 2004. Prior to that she directed the New England Small Farm Institute for 17 years. Kathy has written, consulted and taught about farmland and beginning farmer issues for 25 years. She also served as the coordinator of the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group from 1992-2012, where she specialized in regional food systems and public policy. Kathy Ruhf will share her many years of experience in providing practical solutions to complex and emotional challenges as the pioneers of organic agricultural production retire or transition to doing less work as a speaker at the NODPA Field Days. To read Kathy’s article on the subject, please go to:


Feed and Pay Price Update

In the Northeast, competition for milk supply is increasing with expansion plans by Upstate Niagara and Stonyfield, both looking for producers in certain geographic areas, and the national brands working to keep their producers by offering small incentives on pay price. Producers are in a stronger position to advocate for a higher pay price as they renew contracts or talk with their cooperative about the annual decisions around increase in member compensation. There is also an increase in demand for producers who qualify for the grass fed label as CROPP expands its available routes for producers. The conventional pay price is still high, the beef cull price has shown no sign of dropping, and conventional feed is cheap so there is no economic incentive to transition unless there is the promise of a future higher pay price for organic. With an average growth rate of 7-8% a year in fluid sales and increasing demand for organic dairy in manufactured product, now would be the time for organic buyers to schedule higher pay prices for the next few years as, with higher profits for conventional producers, it makes it easier to transition to organic production as the cost of transition would be less than with weak conventional prices. For a more complete article please go to:


Added August 18, 2014

NODPA Field Days Update

For the second time in NODPA’s 14-year history, New Hampshire will host NODPA’s Field Days this year. We will gather in Southwestern New Hampshire at Stonewall Farm, in Keene, at the height of the autumn color, on Thursday, September 25th and Friday September 26th.

This year’s program is packed with compelling, practical workshops, a tour of the diverse enterprises at Stonewall Farm, a large trade show, delicious local and organic meals, a social hour, and plenty of time to network with fellow farmers. We are excited to announce that Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program, USDA-AMS, Dr. Jean Richardson, Chair of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), and Henry Perkins, President of the Maine Organic Milk Producers, past President of NODPA, and long-time certified organic farmer, will share their thoughts on the future of organic certification following the Thursday evening banquet and NODPA’s annual meeting. As always, there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

As the NODPA Field Days’ title suggests, half of this year’s program focuses on improving the farm’s financial bottom line while the other half focuses on organic dairy’s bottom line: the cows. Dr. Hubert Karreman, VMD and Dr. Cynthia Lankenau, DVM, will team up to provide practical knowledge and tools so you can keep your herd in peak condition.

From the business perspective, we will have workshops that focus on creating sustainability through diversity and planning for the next generation; ways to maximize farm income without large-scale capital investment or changing production practices; and trends and opportunities for grass based dairies in the wholesale organic milk market. Herd health workshops will include the very popular Odairy Live! Ask the Vets: Q & A session, and an extended, hands-on workshop on Alternative Cow Care: Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Acupressure and more which will be led by both Dr. Karreman and Dr. Lankenau, using cows generously donated by Stonewall Farm.

Interested in learning more about this 2-day event? Thinking about becoming a sponsor or an exhibitor? Planning on attending? Please go HERE for more details, or contact Nora Owens, NODPA Field Days Coordinator, at:, phone: 413-772-0444. To Register for this event, go HERE.

Finally, to download a PDF of our brochure, go here >

Madre Method

The 'Madre Method', defined as the 'unencumbered suckling of a calf on its own biological dam from birth to the age of 10 months', is a method of raising replacements that Phyllis and Paul Van Amburgh began on their farm 8 years ago. This article covers the technique as well as the economics and the benefits that the Van Amburghs have experienced in their herd by way of livestock health, vigor, longevity and more. Find the full article HERE.

Dual Purpose Fleckvieh Cattle

With a growing interest in grass-based livestock genetics for organic dairies, the dual purpose Fleckvieh cow has been gaining some attention. Organic production practices demand that a cow is healthy and productive, and can live a long time. Dual purpose breeds bring an added economic benefit of being able to market some of the livestock (bulls, cull cows, etc) for beef. The Bavarian Fleckvieh is a strong, muscular, dual purpose cow with the potential for high milk production, grass efficiency, longevity and an income stream for milk and beef. Learn more about this breed HERE.

Odairy Discussions

In each issue of the NODPA News we include an article by NODPA President, Liz Bawden, where she summarizes two months of discussions on the informative and lively NODPA-Odairy Discussion List. This summary article includes a story about a calf with a knuckled under hoof, a cow with edema, another animal with poor appetite, one with a bladder infection and a group of calves with giardia, and more.
Find Liz's excellent article HERE.

Added July 28, 2014

Johne's Disease

Dr. Susan Beal continues to learn about Johne's disease and though there is lots of information out there reflecting conventional thoughts and research, Susan would like to push the envelope a little and share some case stories and thoughts around this disease. Read more here.

Cover Crops as Forage Crops ...
A Look at Winter Rye and Triticale

As more and more farmers in the Northeast are starting to look at cover crops as part of their crop rotation, 'double cropping'  has become a very viable option to evaluate. In this article, Kirsten Workman, Agronomy Outreach Professional for UVM Extension, will compare the performance of Winter Rye and Winter Triticale by sharing yields and feed value of these two crops. Samples were collected from three different farms on five fields. Read more here.

Feed and Pay Price

Organic milk supply is tight, consumption of organic fluid milk is increasing, feed costs are starting to rise as supply tightens and purchased hay is expensive, if you can find any of good quality. BUT the pay price only increases by $1. Organic leader and founder of Stonyfield Farms Gary Hirschberg recently told a group of investors that now is the time to buy into organics and it seems there is a positive future for everyone in the organic business world except for producers who are being undercut by imports. Learn more about the current trends in milk pay price, feed and the retail price for organic milk by going here >

Farmer Groups meet in DC to discuss
how to give farmers more clout in
national policy

Building an effective political voice for organic farmers and ranchers in the United States was the subject of a multi-organization meeting in Washington DC in mid-June.  Representatives from organic farming and supporting associations from the East, Midwest, Northwest, South, Upper Great Plains and mountain regions representing approximately 1/3 of organic farmers nationwide attended this exploratory meeting. While many organic farmers belong to organizations that already engage in valuable policy focused coalitions, or that do this work on their own, this group came to the conclusion that there is a need for a national organization representing all organic farmers and ranchers. This organization would be a forum where organic farmers can debate and formulate national organic farm policy reflecting the needs and concerns of organic farmers, plus represent organic farmers’ interests and concerns in broader issues where the voice of the organic farmer is needed or desired.  Having a place where the media, elected officials, and regulatory agencies can find the undiluted voice of the organic farming community would provide the clout and influence that organic farmers lack at this time. It was not the goal of the exploratory meeting to design a fully develop program, network or organization but it did discuss many ideas and concepts. This group wants to hear from as many farmers or farmer based organizations, as possible from all over the country and to know if they would be willing to participate in the development of a confederation, network or organization to provide for a strong and effective organic farmer voice in the United States. Please get in touch with me by email,, if you have an interest in moving the process forward. And click here for more details of the meeting and who attended.

Added June 10, 2014

The USDA Organic Check-Off

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is continuing its self-styled ‘discussion’ of establishing a federally mandated, USDA administered, Organic Check-off. In looking at different definitions of discussion they generally follow this idea ‘the action or process of talking about something, typically in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas.’

The one-sided propaganda campaign now being waged by OTA, which includes a mass mailing of brochures and robo-calls to individual producers, is not a discussion at all. It presents one side of a campaign to establish a USDA Organic Check-off program without asking the basic question of whether we want or need a federal government program to promote the organic label and assist with funding of organic research. This initiative was decided solely by the OTA Board, advised by Washington DC based lobbyists. With the authorization of the Farm Bill, OTA now has the choice of following the USDA process of establishing an organic check-off program under the administrative guidance of USDA AMS. While there are several times within that process when those that will be assessed have an opportunity to voice their opinions, it will be a protracted procedure that will last over 2-3 years and will require a well-financed and politically connected opposition in the face of OTA’s existing campaign. If the process for advancing an application for a check-off program continues under its present management by a trade organization using emotive language and a well-financed promotion program, it will divide the organic community. This will be counter-productive at a time when the community needs to be united in the face of many marketplace and USDA threats to undermine both the integrity and uniqueness of organic certification.

With this Farm Bill, organic producers and small businesses have the opportunity to opt out completely from paying into any organic check-off program which meant that farmers and ranchers can decide for themselves what to do with their money. If OTA is successful in establishing a USDA organic check-off organic program producers will lose that opportunity to opt out and be forced to pay into either a conventional or organic check-off program, something they may have voted against. There are many half-truths and sound bites now being used by OTA to describe the benefits of a USDA Organic Check-off program that are misleading at best.

There was never a community wide discussion of whether we needed an organic check-off or could be better served with other ways to promote organic production and research. Now is the time for a pause in the propaganda and hard sell and the launch of a community wide discussion of how to promote organic production and sales. We all want to promote organic and provide more money for organic on-farm research. When you get your robo call just reply that you are not in favor of any check-off and ask that they make a note of that on their call record.

When asked about what to do with check-off monies your reply could be ‘give the producers back their money and trust them to use it in ways that will benefit organic.’ Farmers and ranchers have always led organic research with their on-farm production practices and their lifestyles are the greatest promotion of the benefits of organic.

Unfortunately the process of establishing a USDA Organic Check-off will be all about numbers and getting out the vote against a heavily financed campaign (sound familiar to our deadlocked federal system of democracy?). NODPA has established an online petition to start to accumulate the numbers to oppose a move to establish a USDA Organic Check-off. Please consider signing on to the petition if you have not done so already:  

For more information on the USDA Organic Check-Off please go to:

Organic Dairy Production
with the End in Mind

Arden J. Nelson, DVM, and Diplomate, ABVP-Dairy has been a dairy cattle veterinary nutrition consultant for over 34 years, and, not surprisingly, believes that “Nutrition is Everything to Dairy Cows”. Nutrition is one of the largest expense on the farm as are veterinary costs and Arden rightly believes that by managing the one (nutrition) organic dairy farmers will control diseases, prevent premature culling and promote a healthy immune systems. Well balanced nutrition will directly impact the dairy producers’ bottom line and not unexpectedly affect the composition of the milk that consumers drink. For more on how what we eat now will affect the future genes of our grandchildren and find out what ‘Epigenetics’ is please go to:

Crossbreeding with Norwegian Reds

The advantages of crossbreeding have long been evident and many organic producers have developed their own preferences for cross bred animals that will suit their system.  The aim of any breeding program is to improve production, health and fertility traits that benefit the goals of the individual family farm. While there are many choices out there the Norwegian Reds are one that may be most suited to organic production being moderate in size with calves that are hardy and fast growing and clearly adapted to grazing systems. The Norwegian Reds draw on the genetics of the Ayrshire breed, one of my favorites from many years milking then in England and Wales (United Kingdom). For more on the breed and their characteristics please go to:


Added May 19, 2014

Pay Price, Feed and Retail Price update

We learned this week that MOO Milk in Maine has ceased production because of the lack of processing infrastructure to match the growing market needs ( ). For at least the next three months, their 12 members will sell their milk to Stonyfield yogurt which started to source its own milk in the last couple of months. Stonyfield’s first and only producer was using the MOO Milk transport to ship their milk and Stonyfield was buying the rest of the load from MOO Milk. MOO Milk has stated that all vendors will be paid and almost a year ago they were able to refund the founding members capital investment with a $3 million anonymous donation through Slow Money. Fortunately this thoughtful and obviously well planned decision to stop packaging milk comes as Stonyfield started their own sourcing program in New England so it appears that no producers will lose money. The demise of yet another independent processor highlights the complexity of the supply chain for those producers that want to work together to coordinate the direct marketing of their product, especially for organically certified product that has to be kept separate from non-organic during transport, processing and delivery.

With retail fluid sales increasing by approximately 7% per year, an increased demand for no-grain milk, and a supply shortage, which has some supermarkets posting lack of availability signs in stores, we are seeing a distinct difference in how the two national brands of organic milk are responding to the increased demand for milk. CROPP Cooperative is tentatively offering a small $1/cwt increase and WhiteWave Horizon Organic is extending their MAPP for Northeast farmers until December 31, 2014, but offering no increase. CROPP is responding to increased demand for “Grass milk” by upping their premium in the face of competition from other companies’ higher pay price and increased marketing of “100% grass-fed” organic milk. The Northeast market has become increasingly competitive for milk due to a late ‘spring flush’ and producers who have cut back production in the face of high feed inputs and stagnant pay price, with one processor reporting that they are down 40 tanker loads from last year, and no milk going into the conventional market. Non-organic producers in the northeast are seeing an increase in per cwt pay price over a five year average of approximately $4 per cwt and a return on equity of 4.3% (Northeast Dairy Farm Summary 2013, Farm Credit East) whereas organic dairy farm families are looking at increased input costs with no increase in pay price. For more details and charts please go to:


A Pasture is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Spring has finally come to the Northeast and as the soil warms up, we have an explosion of pasture. How do we use it most productively and efficiently to maximize growth over the whole grazing seasons? In his article, Hue Karreman goes back over the basics on managing the size of paddocks and measuring growth so that it meets the needs of you livestock. To read his very practical advice on managing pasture and utilizing what you have on your own farm, please go to:


GMO Labeling Law passes in VT

In a landmark bill a GMO labeling bill was passed recently in Vermont with no trigger that requires other neighboring states to have similar bill in place. The bill requires labeling as of July 1, 2016, on many food products (not milk and meat though) that contain genetically modified ingredients, which often includes corn, soy, and canola. Food manufacturers say some 70-80 percent of packaged food on a typical supermarket's store shelves would need to be labeled. The bill grants the Attorney General's Office the job of establishing rules surrounding the labels. While many folks have been involved in this fight, NODPA’s first director and now Newsletter and Web editor, Lisa McCrory, has been working on this issue since 1999. Congratulation to Lisa and her husband Carl for their great work and dedication to the cause of knowing what is in our food. You can see the video of Lisa and Carl’s speech (as Rural Vermont board members and representative farmers) at the celebration of the GMO labeling law at 

NODPA News Editor Lisa McCrory and her husband Carl Russell at the GMO labelling law celebration

Added April 8, 2014

SAVE THE DATE: NODPA 2014 Field Days
The 14th Annual NODPA Field Days will be on Thursday and Friday September 25 & 26, 2014 at Stonewall Farm, in Keene, New Hampshire.

Stonewall Farm is centrally located in Southwest New Hampshire, not far from Brattleboro, VT and Keene, NH. The farm is an educational farm that has an organic dairy, micro-milk processing facility, on-site hydroponic barley fodder operation, cheese and yogurt making capacity, farm store, CSA, and educational programing, and they are experimenting with growing canola for biodiesel as well as creating a small grains cooperative where they share combine harvesting equipment. As we move forward with the planning for the Field Days, as usual, we welcome input from organic dairy producers and their supporters, especially around topics of interest that we can focus on for the NODPA Field Days event.

For more details on sponsorship and to reserve limited trade show space, please contact NODPA event coordinator Nora Owens:

Preventing & Treating Lameness in Cows

Lameness in cows is expensive and needs to be prevented as much as possible particularly for organic dairy cows that are required to walk to pasture for their feed.  Dr. Hue Karreman has written a timely article that looks at the nutritional and environmental factors affecting hoof health and the practical treatment of hoof problems. Hue’s conclusion is that “while problems are generally minimal on organic farms, lameness and its effect on efficient grazing really must be prevented. By proper nutrition and environmental improvements, your cows should be able to move freely and easily as they graze contentedly.” Read more of Hue’s advice with graphic pictures at:


Magnesium for Dairy Pastures

The role of magnesium in crops, even pasture and forages, is generally underestimated according to soil and plant testing performed throughout the U.S and other parts of the world. For those that test for Magnesium in forage they will see a confirmation of such a deficiency but the solution is not as simple as just adding Magnesium to the soil; in fact that may not solve the problem. Neal Kinsey of Kinsey Ag Services explains in detail how to analyze the problem (“be sure that the soil tests being utilized are capable of accurately determining true Magnesium needs in order to secure the correct material to sufficiently provide for any needed corrections or changes”) and consider different solutions. To read the complete article by Neal Kinsey please go to:


You're Invited to NOC's pre-NOSB Meeting

Description: Pre-NOSB Meeting: April 28, 2014  9am-5:30pm
St. Anthony Hotel
300 East Travis St, San Antonio, TX
Please RSVP to: 

NOSB Meeting: 
April 29 - May 2, 2014
St. Anthony Hotel
300 East Travis Street, San Antonio, TX

Added March 17, 2104

National Check-Off Program?

“At the Task Force Meeting one of the producers asked for a show of hands to see if any of the nine producers in attendance supported the checkoff initiative. There were no hands raised.” This informal vote is part of the report from the New York Organic Dairy Task Force at its December 6th 2013 meeting at the Dairylea Offices in Syracuse. This supports other evidence that the majority of producers have expressed their opinion that they do not want an Organic Check-off. The purpose of the NY Organic Dairy Task Force meeting was to discuss this potential organic checkoff program that has split the organic community amongst producers and processors. The New York Organic Dairy Task Force has been funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute since 2005. The Task Force is comprised of organic dairy and crop farmers, certifiers, processors, and related support services. It meets twice a year to assess opportunities and barriers to the organic dairy industry in New York, allowing farmers to offer and develop informed opinions. To read the complete report please go to:


The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has been congratulating itself on their success in changing the law to enable an organic check off with the passage of the Farm Bill. At the recent Expo West trade show, OTA claimed that its check-off initiative is really rolling now. "We changed the game, and we got it done," OTA’s CEO and Executive Director Laura Batcha is quoted as declaring at a workshop, “The program should be up and ready to go in 18 to 24 months.”  OTA Board Chair, Melody Meyer, of UNFI also expressed delight that the check-off scheme is moving forward: "Hopefully gone will be the days when we have to do fundraisers for separate areas of industry and meet in hotel rooms and at dinners to raise funds." Significantly it is the processors and manufacturers that attend and give at these dinners; OTA seems pleased that the money will now come from producers and others instead of their processor members.

OTA propaganda also seems to be misleading, implying that all levels from retail to farmers will be assessed for the check-off. As most of the margin and profit on organics is made at the marketing and retailing level, they should pay the most. No-one has yet described how they will get large corporations like Coca Cola, Heinz and Con Agra and retailers like Stop and Shop, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Safeway to pay into the check-off across state lines and on a national scale. Which leaves producers paying either directly or indirectly when handlers are assessed and producers are paid less for their milk.

NODPA is committed to working with its partners to ensure that the producer voice is heard at USDA as it is obvious that OTA remains deaf to what farmers and their families want and need. Please remember that:

You can still be UNITED FOR ORGANIC without supporting a Check-Off program

For more information please go to:

In Memory of John Kinsman

In January, the organic community and family farm community lost one of its shining lights. John Kinsman passed away peacefully at his farm. John farmed organically most of his life. After an incident with chemicals early in his life, which hospitalized him, he decided to move forward without them. The introduction of BST lit a fire in John that was never put out. John's view on this created tensions in certain circles. John viewed BST as a total loss. It was a loss for the farmer, a loss for the cow, and a loss for the consumer. The loss of farmers that resulted from this along with poor pricing policy would be devastating. John knew the hardship caused to our cattle would be severe and declining consumer confidence would be the final nail in the coffin. When organic came to the forefront John was already there.
John will be missed by many but the benefits of his work will be enjoyed by all of us for years to come. We can all hope to carry his message and work forward. I know I intend to. For the complete article please go to:


Share of the retail dollar – how important is it in determining pay price?

Organic pay price changes have come from shortage of supply (increase of $4 from 2003 to 2006); increased competition when HP Hood entered the market; and most recently increases in the Market Adjusted Premiums (MAP) when high feed costs threatened supply. Coincidently, those increases happened at the same time as the producer share of the retail dollar increased and the average retail price decreased. Using the existing data, we would need a $3 increase on base price to bring the share of the retail dollar up to the same level as non-organic, assuming the retail price does not drop. History shows that an increase in pay price has no direct effect on the average retail price.

When looking at calculating pay price, an easier place to start is with costs of production and a pay price that gives an adequate Return On Investment (ROI) to re-invest in the farm (an essential part of organics), a modest family income (in the $60,000/year range), and an ability to service all debt so producers have at least 60% equity against liabilities. Available data and reports from producers suggest that non-organic dairy will be more profitable than organic dairy for 2013 and 2014 based on accepted financial comparisons like ROI and net income. How we use the limited existing data to determine an equitable organic pay price and how this might be tied in with the new margin insurance program in the Farm Bill could be a way to address a pay price that is falling behind costs of production. For the complete article and charts:


The Story of the CowVac

The Horn Fly is a very tough pest to control and seemingly resistant to most every chemical control. It only reproduces in cow pastures, which means there is always breeding material in the manure and research shows that as few as 200 Horn Flies per cow is the starting point of production losses. A loss of 15% in milk production has been reported during summer months and a 10% reduction in lifetime milk production has been reported from sub clinical mastitis in young stock caused by Horn Flies before the first lactation.  For the past 16 years, North Carolina State University entomologists, Dr. Wes Watson and Steve Denning, have been researching IPM practices for pest fly control for commercial livestock and poultry operations.  Horn Flies have been a target for much of their work. Their research was the start of the CowVac. For the complete article please go to:


Added February 17, 2014

Farm Bill News

The Farm Bill has passed and folks in DC are getting ready for the implementation phase. For a detailed analysis of all the great work done by the National Organic Coalition (NOC) to increase funding for organic, please go to:  and for more general information, go to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website:

For organic dairy there was nothing in particular in the Farm Bill, although NODPA will continue to ask how the new dairy margin insurance can be applied to organic dairy rather than the margin being defined only by non-organic data. Many organic dairies would benefit from margin insurance right now. As non-organic dairy looks forward to cheaper feed and higher farm gate pay prices, they will definitely outperform organic ones in 2014.

Organic Check-Off

The Organic Trade Association successfully pushed their organic check off proposal forward in the Farm Bill. The implementation stage of allowing all organic operations to opt out of paying check-off funds will, hopefully, be enacted quickly and dairy processors will be able to reclaim their 20 cents per hundred weight check-off payment. All producers will agree that this 20 cents should immediately be added to the base pay price to start the process of recognizing the across-the-board input increases on all organic dairy farms. In fact, all the MAP’s and seasonal payments should be added to the base price rather than have them paid at the discretion of the processor. It’s time for the processors to pay producers their rightful share of the retail dollar.

For more details please go to: feed_prices_01_24_14.shtml

Stonyfield has still not publicized anything about their pay price, for those that want to contract directly with the Stonyfield/Danone operation, but they have advertised for a field person to work with producers to build an organic pool of milk.

National Organic Program and
National Organic Standards Board

The NOC has been advocating for years for increased funding for the National Organic Program and this Farm Bill gave $5 million to the program to update and modernize its services and data compilation. The NOP repeatedly informs us that they are overstretched and have difficulties moving their priorities through the USDA and regulatory process. Hopefully, this $5 million will help speed that process.

The Origin of Livestock Proposed Rule has finally left the NOP and is working its way through the various processes of approval at USDA and other agencies, then on to the Executive Office of Budget and Management (OMB). This rule making has for a long time (6-7 years) been a priority for the NOP. Perhaps we might see the Proposed Rule published in the Federal Register by the Fall of 2014.

The NOP continues to push its new interpretation of the ‘sunset’ process, which restricts the input by producers regarding what can be used in organic production, and threatens consumer confidence in the integrity of the organic label.

For more information or to comment on this, please go to:

The NOP appears set to reduce the independence of the National Organic Standards Board by increasingly applying the regulations enacted by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). While the NOSB does come under this Act, it has historically had its own chairperson and decided on its own agenda, which has given consumers confidence in the accountability and independence of the program and the integrity of the organic seal. Too much control of this Board by the USDA will undermine this confidence and perhaps lead consumers to decide that the organic seal has lost its unique qualities.

The next NOSB meeting will be on April 29 - May 2, 2014, St. Anthony Hotel, 300 East Travis Street, San Antonio, Texas.

The NOC Pre-NOSB Meeting: April 28, 2014   9am-5:30pm
St. Anthony Hotel, 300 East Travis Street, San Antonio, Texas.

Poultry Litter on Pastures:
Trash or Treasure?

By Dave Johnson, NODPA Vice President, Organic Producer
Graze just what grows or fertilize for more?  It’s a question that goes through the minds of graziers, especially when it seems like the pasture quality is marginal, drought patterns persist, and the land base is pretty tight. While Kiwi grass farmers regularly time applications of synthetic Nitrogen (N) to manage the feed wedge, I would venture to guess that most organic grass farmers in the states seldom apply fertilizer to pastures, maybe because a shot of organic N is not as easy to come by.

Some of us live in areas where poultry litter is available, albeit via a few hour truck ride, for the cost of material plus hauling. So how does it work, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of using this on pastures? To read the complete article please go to:


Controlling Flies This Summer

While its difficult to imagine right now with the snow, sleet, freezing temperature and a climate change winter, the days are getting longer and spring is approaching. Now is the time to think about the coming fly season and prepare for it as it’s not only television presenters that get pink eye. While we might exchange anything for the cold, we will soon be cursing the problems that heat and flies bring including mastitis and pink eye. Like everything in organic management there is no silver bullet for fly control, so developing an integrated pest management program is most effective for overall fly control.  In her article, Jessica Starcevich, Entomologist for Spalding Labs, shares some of the wisdom accumulated from visiting numerous dairies of all sizes. A dairy farm that grazes can still manage to breed house flies and biting stable flies in abundance around buildings and in the pastures and the cattle will be bothered by face flies and horn flies.  Because these flies breed in different environments, they require different approaches to control. To read the whole article, please go to:


Online Resources, January 2014

Looking for some useful websites that can help you with your grazing strategies or provide insights on the economics of organic dairy production? To find more resources that NODPA has compiled please go to:


Do you know of some on-line resources that you would like to share with the NODPA readership? Let us know! We would love to share your resource connections in a future issue of the NODPA News and on our website. Please send any information to Lisa McCrory at

Learn from the Vet: Dairy Cows
March 14 & 15, 2014, 10 am – 4 pm

Join veterinarian, Dr. Hue Karreman, for this 2-day class that will empower livestock farmers to become close observers of their animals and develop disease prevention and health-promoting strategies that improve animal health and business performance.

Learn more >

Added January 24, 2014

Economic Sustainability of Vermont
Organic Dairy Farms: How Strong Is the Economic Leg?

The study of the economics of organic dairying by Bob Parsons, UVM Extension, and Lisa McCrory is in its tenth year and is the longest running study of its kind in the US. Producers are always being told to back up their claims for an increase in pay price with data, which Bob and Lisa’s study has done. The following are some quotes taken from Bob Parsons’ article:, “In conclusion, organic farms are getting by,” “Organic is not the road to riches for many,” “Higher milk prices are needed but can the market absorb a higher price without losing consumer demand?” “There should be concern for the long run viability and sustainable and healthy supply of organic milk from Vermont farms.” To read Bob’s article, complete with charts and tables, please go to:


Environmentalists, Farmers Challenge USDA’s Call for the Deregulation of Crops with Genetically Engineered Tolerance to the Highly Toxic Herbicide 2,4-D

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released for public input its Draft Environmental Impact Statements (DEIS), which calls for the deregulation of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans engineered to be tolerant to the toxic herbicide 2,4-D. These new varieties of GE corn and soybean, created partly due to proliferate weed resistance resulting from the widespread use of glyphosate (Roundup) on other GE crops, is set to usher in dramatic increases in 2,4-D use with associated health and environmental hazards, according to environmental scientists. According to Nichelle Harriott, senior scientist at the national environmental group Beyond Pesticides, “The engineered varieties will not only spawn new weed resistant strains, but contaminate the environment and increase the public health risks to cancer and Parkinson’s disease, especially in farmworkers and farming communities exposed to 2,4-D.” To read more please go to:


Feed and Pay Price Update

Organic fluid milk sales are growing steadily with a year-to-date increase of 4.7% over last year, with some strong competition in the dairy case in the Northeast as Horizon Organic maintains the number one position in retail sales, with sales of store brand/private label in second place. What is equally interesting is what the major organic milk companies are doing as organic increases its drive toward consolidation. WhiteWave have decided to sell their large organic dairy in Idaho (can’t make it pay) and is now expanding into China through a joint-venture agreement with China Mengniu Dairy Co., plus they have just completed their $600 million purchase of Earthbound Farm, a California company that sells organic salads, dried fruits and frozen fruits and vegetables. Organic Valley, through its subsidiaries Organic Prairie and Lorentz Meats, is investing in a slaughterhouse and meat processing facility in southern Vermont and will distribute product throughout New England in partnership with Black River Produce, despite the fact that reports say their organic beef program is struggling. Stonyfield has decided to set up their own pool of milk in New England, and Blue Goose (Canada) is expanding rapidly (Google them!).

Organic corn is still in the $10-12 per bushel range in the midwest but there are fears of a lower than average bushel weight. Organic livestock and grain farmers have plenty to deal with over and above the weather, which is literally freezing teats on milking cows no matter what producers use to try to protect them. Organic grain growers are faced with projections that conventional prices for corn will drop as low as $2-3 per bushel in 2015, the organic price would then be projected at $6-7 per bushel (roughly double the conventional price). If that happens we will see an exodus of organic grain producers. Grain producers need a fair price to ensure that we have enough domestic production for livestock. At that lower price there will probably be a slowdown in imported grains, except that the organic poultry farms are the biggest consumers of organic grain and are currently importing product from countries as far away as India, which comes into the US from Canada.

For more details please go to:


Should Soilless Hydroponic Growing Operations be Certified Organic?

Hydroponics is the system of growing crops in nutrient solutions, usually indoors and under lights. Organic Standards clearly require that only biologically and ecologically based growing practices qualify as organic.

Organic integrity is at stake here. The National Organic Program (NOP) is already allowing some certifying agencies to OK hydroponic operations and is ready to issue a directive that completely bypasses the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) 2010 recommendations and review process to give hydroponic operations the full go-ahead.

Some biologically active, ecologically-balanced operations such as aquaponics (utilizing fish-based nutrient systems) may well qualify but it is imperative that the NOP first take on the difficult task of writing standards – based on the required NOSB guideline input – before allowing hydroponics as an organic practice.

A petition to persuade the NOP to undertake this review process was begun by a Vermont farmer earlier this month and is spreading all around the country.

Please Sign this Petition Now to Protect Organic Integrity!!


Upcoming Winter Conferences for 2014: Part II

Each year, it seems there are more and more options for producers to travel and learn from fellow farmers, consultants, and researchers. It is not only gratifying to see the wealth of information, but also the vibrant Trade Shows, delicious food, and times during the days and evenings to network and spend quality time with friends, old and new. To find highlights for a handful of conferences taking place in Ohio, New York, Vermont, and Wisconsin, please go:


More events can be found in the Calendar section of the NODPA website:


Who is responsible for the audit trail for transporting milk and hay? USDA Releases Guidance on handling unpackaged organic products.

The NOP has posted in its Handbook final guidance on whether a hauler of organic bulk products (hay, organic milk) needs to be certified:

NODPA amongst others took an active role in this process with its comments to NOP in response to the draft guidance published in 2012. We stressed that guidance should be both practical, not an unrealistic burden on producers but still maintain the integrity of the product from farm to table. On most levels this guidance does that.

In summary this guidance allocates the responsibility for the audit trail for ensuring that there is no co-mingling of product or contact with prohibited substances when bulk products are transported to whoever pays and controls the trucking. Below is an extract from the guidance that describes what NOP is looking for by way of an audit trail: The certified organic operation responsible for the organic products that are transported must:

  • Maintain records in sufficient detail as to be readily understood and audited;

  • Maintain the audit trail and trace ability of organic products;

  • Prevent comingling and contamination of the certified products during transportation

  • Fully describe the transportation practices in the organic system plan; and

  • Ensure that the transportation records for organic products are available for inspection

With transportation of organic milk the certified organic operation who is responsible for gathering the information for the certifier is the entity that pays for and controls the transportation – the processor; for a producer who is purchasing organic hay then the responsibility shifts to whoever pays for the trucking, so could be either the producer, dealer or farmer selling the hay. NOP is running a workshop for certifiers to ensure that there is consistent interpretation of this guidance.

ADDED December 9, 2013

ODairy Discussion Summary

Like the New England weather, if you wait a day the topic for discussion on the ODairy list-serve will change. Tired of reading about flies and cow health? Perhaps a discussion on stray voltage might be your preference. If not then perhaps a few posts on Obama Care followed by a discussion on what to do if you have a positive test for GMO contamination, followed by…. well almost anything.

For a summary of the highlights of ODairy discussions please go to:

ODairy discussions >

If you want to join the list serve you can sign up at:

Enhancing Cover Crop Benefits With Species Mixtures And Organic Reduced Tillage Systems

“As we seek to get more efficient cropping systems, from the perspectives of crop yields, maintaining environmental quality, and managing labor, using cover crop mixtures and reduced tillage practices appear to be strategies worth considering.” Charlie White is a Sustainable Agriculture Extension Associate with Penn State Extension's Crop Management Team.  Charlie's research and extension activities are focused on how cover crops and cover crop mixtures can be used to meet farm management objectives such as improving soil health, enhancing nutrient cycling, and reducing input costs.  To read more on his research please go to:

Enhanced cover crop benefits >

Agroforestry: trees, bushes,
crops and intensive grazing

Agroforestry integrates “trees, crops and animals in the same area and at the same time, or in a time sequence.” Trees can be used as hedgerows or windbreaks for annual or perennial crops plus they can serve multiple objectives for grazing, timber harvesting, fruit and nut production plus a rich array of forage plants for grazing animals. They can also provide numerous other benefits for producers including flood, erosion and sedimentation control and for nature by providing a habitat for wildlife, a healthier local ecosystem, and a pleasant landscape. To learn more please go to:

Agroforestry primer >

Upcoming Winter Conferences

As we settle into winter, we find numerous opportunities for farmers, researchers, resource individuals, students, and consumers to come together, share information and network with one another. At many of these events, there are opportunities for all-day intensive workshops on subjects in soil health, animal husbandry, business management, and more. In our November and January NODPA News publications, we like to highlight a few of the many events taking place in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and West coast.  For a larger listing of upcoming events, please visit our Calendar of Events on the NODPA Website.

Winter Conference details >

Update on NODPA’s First Fundraising Campaign: “GOT MONEY – NODPA NEEDS SOME OF IT”

We have gotten off to a great start, but we still need your support. Please donate to NODPA to:

  • Support balance in organic decision-making by ensuring that producers have a voice
  • Help NODPA provide:
    •  a bimonthly print newsletter;
    • it’s ODairy Listserv;
    • it’s annual Field Days;
    • its comprehensive and regularly updated website
  • Support NODPA’s membership of the National Organic Coalition, National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition and Organic Trade Association.
  • Support NODPA’s ability to take producer concerns to Washington, to industry, to the media and to consumers and environmental groups.

NODPA is an independent organization; it acts as a voice for all producers in a marketplace dominated by industry.

Help NODPA deliver and donate online at

Please contact Nora Owens at or call 413-772-0444 if you have questions or need assistance. Thank you for your support!

Organic Check-off    

With the Organic Trade Associations (OTA) language to enable an organic check-off in both the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill, there is no leverage to advocate to Congress about changing or dropping the language. If the 2013 Farm Bill passes either attached to budget legislation or as a stand-alone bill, then the OTA language will be the law. If the Farm Bill doesn’t pass then you can be sure that OTA will attach their language as an amendment on another piece of legislation. Having spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars they are unlikely to let it drop.

OTA is urging folks to participate in their survey about what an organic check-off will look like. Unfortunately they fail to have as a first question whether you want an organic check-off. Rather than accept that the check-off will happen and participate in the OTA survey, we urge everyone (whether producer or consumer) to sign our petition against an organic check-off. With over 600 signatures at present, you can register your disapproval of both the way that OTA has conducted the process and the content of their proposal, by signing the petition. Unfortunately, we have no drawing for a laptop or an IPad for your participation; just the knowledge that you will be doing the right thing.

To sign the petition please go to:

For more detailed information on the proposed organic check-off, please go to:


ADDED November 18, 2013

The War of Words in the fight for organic integrity and less synthetics in organics

On September 16th the National Organic Program (NOP) issued a Federal register notice changing the process that is used to decide whether prohibited substances can continue to be used in organic production (the Sunset process). This change took effect immediately on September 17th with no allowance for public comment about the change in policy.

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) provides for Sunset Review under SEC. 2118 U.S.C. 6517 NATIONAL LIST. (e) SUNSET PROVISION.- “No exemption or prohibition contained in the National List shall be valid unless the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)  has reviewed such exemption or prohibition as provided in this section within 5 years of such exemption or prohibition being adopted or reviewed and the Secretary has renewed such exemption or prohibition.” It clearly states that no exemption or prohibition contained in the National List of products allowed in organic production shall be valid unless the National Organic Standards Board has reviewed and renewed the exemptions or prohibitions. From 2005 to the present the NOP policy indicated that the NOSB needed to act to keep synthetics on the National List at the time of their Sunset; without action by the NOSB, those exemptions and prohibitions would expire. The new policy adopted by the NOP effectively allows a material to be reviewed by the NOSB and its sub-committees at the time of sunset. The substance would remain on the list unless there is a two-thirds majority to remove it. This significantly lowers the bar for removing synthetics from organic.

This decision by NOP provoked protests from producers, consumers and environmentalists but found support from some industry representatives, most notably the new President of the Organic Trade Association and VP Policy and Industry Relations United Natural Foods (UNFI), Melody Meyer.

The NOP has explained that they face many administrative hurdles in rulemaking and that this change will enable them to move the process forward more quickly. Many producer, environmental and consumer groups fear that this will again weaken the power of the NOSB and turn it into just another USDA advisory committee doing the bidding of the department. Some fear that is part of the slow decline of the organic standards in the pursuit of more sales and that organic will soon be just another label lacking integrity with sales of product supported by purchase of imported raw materials. Most worrying is the method that the NOP adopted to make these changes. There was no consultation with all constituency groups either formally or informally which breaks the long tradition that has prevailed since the 1990’s. Consumer groups have felt marginalized and its no secret who buys our organic products (consumers) and who they rely on to inform and educate them about their integrity (consumer groups). Maintaining the integrity of the organic seal is especially important for groups like dairy that rely on bulk sales in a highly competitive market. In order to work together, all groups need to be involved at the beginning of the process, not informed of the result and told to get on board.

For the National Organic Coalition’s take on the issue:

For the opinions of consumer and environmental groups (Joint Statement of Consumers Union, Food and Water Watch, Beyond Pesticides and Center for Food Safety), a Blog post by Melody Meyer,  (Stop the Lies and get behind your National Organic Program), followed by a letter by Jim Riddle, past Chair of the NOSB and one of the leaders of the organic community, please go to:

2013 NODPA Field Days

The 2013 NODPA Field Days was a great success with perfect weather, fantastic speakers, an exceptional keynote address, informative workshops, lots of exhibitors, and delicious food prepared and served by the women of the Mansfield Hose Company Banquet Hall.

The producer meeting provided some fresh ideas and direction for NODPA in the coming year, and the Keynote address, by organic dairy farmer, Kevin Engelbert, gave a sobering look at where the organic milk market is heading. His frank and truthful appraisal of the industry only made the ideas discussed at the producer meeting more appropriate and necessary as next action steps. For more on the Field Days and many, many pictures, please go to

Our friend and Maine organic dairy farmer Ralph Caldwell drastic and dramatic loss

Ralph or Raz Caldwell and his family suffered a loss of two of his barns and some equipment on September 29,2013 when fire broke out at the Caldwell Family Farm. Due to the lack of fire hydrants at the rural location, tankers supplied water to the scene and trucks were used to pump water from a small pond down the road. Friends, family and neighbors helped move all the 130 animals out of the barns so that none were lost. The barn itself was built in 1959.

To contribute to the fund for the Caldwell family please send donations to: Maine Organic Milk Producers, c/o Mary Castonguay, 39 Richmond Hill Road, Livermore, ME 04253. Please make donations payable to Maine Organic Milk Producers. For more information:

Feed and Pay Price Updates

USDA Agricultural Marketing  Services (AMS) reports that total fluid sale for organic milk was up again for September 2013; 192 million pounds, which is 10.4% higher than September last year and 5.3% higher than 2012 year to date, with whole milk showing the biggest increase. Organic half gallons retail price is averaging 40 cents lower than 2012 at $3.48.

USDA AMS reported national organic grain and feedstuff prices were holding steady as the harvest season for corn and soybeans comes to an end. Demand for feed grade corn and soybeans remains good as the industry waits to see what yields are nationally with initial yields being higher than expected. Corn for June thru August delivery is being priced at $11 per bushel; about $4 per bushel lower than last year. There are variable reports across the country as to supply and price of organic feed, plus which feed mills contracted ahead and at what prices.

For more details on pay price and retail sales please go to:


For an update of Feed prices please go to:


Added October 6, 2013

The 2013 NODPA Field Days was a great success with perfect weather, fantastic speakers, an exceptional keynote address, informative workshops, lots of exhibitors, and delicious food prepared and served by the women of the Mansfield Hose Company Banquet Hall.  Thank you to all our Sponsors, Supporters, Exhibitors, Speakers, attendees, and donors of food and door prizes.  The Farm Tour took place in bright sunshine after the morning mist cleared and Field Days participants returned to the Mansfield Hose Company Banquet Hall for the rest of the two day program.  Speakers over the next couple days covered subjects including  ‘Applying Whole Farm Planning to Your Farm’, Our Keynote Address: ‘The Future of Organic Dairy’, ‘Sprouted Grains’, ‘Farm Bill, Policy and Washington DC’, ‘Ask the Vet’, and Multi-Species Cover Cropping’. 

Stay tuned for the November NODPA Newsletter, where we will provide more details and highlights. We have posted some photographs from the event on our 2013 NODPA Field Days web page:


Feed & Pay Price Updates

Any gathering of organic dairy producers always comes around to the question of pay price and the topic dominated discussions at the NODPA Field Days. At this year’s Field Days Kevin Engelbert gave an excellent key-note speech which pulled no punches about the reality of the situation and the need for producers to take action.

The producer meeting on Friday morning was dominated by concern about how pay price is being tied to individual inputs along with producer efficiency. Horizon (WhiteWave) has continued its MAP of $3/cwt (which has been in place for over a year) to the end of 2013 based on the continuing high price of corn, which misses the point that all inputs have risen and the base price needs to increase. Stonyfield Farm will be holding another producer meeting in Maine to continue their investigation about their own pool of milk in the Northeast complete with an array of experts that can help producers become more ‘efficient’. Producers across the globe have heard this before and many are insulted that these experts (mostly from academia) can tell them how to farm and cut their costs.

Perhaps if Stonyfield, Organic Valley and Horizon (WhiteWave) allowed business professionals and producers to examine their operations to evaluate them against the most efficient in their industry and suggest ways they could become more efficient and cut their costs, then producers would be more open to sharing their business records and production systems. Stonyfield still has yet to name a pay price for the milk they will purchase as part of their proposed pool of organic raw milk but have promised to make a decision by the end of the year on whether to proceed with purchasing milk directly from producers rather than from Organic Valley. In July Organic Valley informed producers of a 100% base quota (they proposed only paying full price for the base production agreed between the company and producer) with a $12.00 per cwt deduct for milk produced over that quota each month starting with October 1st 2013. At the September Organic Valley Board of Directors meeting, the quota was rescinded and all winter bonus payments were left in place ($3.00/cwt for December, January and  February). Some say milk supplies are long, some short. Organic fluid milk sales are growing steadily with some strong competition in the dairy case in the Northeast, including increasingly from MOO Milk from Maine.

For more details on pay price and retail sales please go to:


For an update of Feed prices please go to:


The 2013 Field Day started with the traditional farm tour at the Simpson farm where Ann Adams of Holistic Management International facilitated the morning event. Kress Simpson gave a short history of the farm, including the changes that were made over 20 years ago as a result of being exposed to the principles of Holistic Management. For more on Kress’s farm please go to: ff_march_2013.shtml. On the farm tour Mike Geiser, owner of the dairy cows, answered questions about the 2013 grazing season and how he moves his cows on the pasture, and Kress gave a broader scope of the crop land and family farm history. Discussions in the pasture were lively covering the benefits of plant species diversity, determining the amount of feed in your pasture (average height and available dry matter per acre), determining the daily forage needs of the herd, learning how to use the NRCS grazing stick, and much more.

Planning with the Next Generation in Mind – a Whole Farm Approach to Succession Planning

Ann Adams, Director, Community Services at Holistic Management International (HMI) writes about the benefits of incorporating a value centered decision-making and planning process that focuses on a triple bottom line in succession planning and farm transfer. With an estimated 70% of farms in the US changing hands in the next 20 years and over 500,000 farmers retiring, the future of agriculture in the US is based on whether family farms can transition from one generation to the next. Inevitably the quality of life for producers and their families, especially those that milk cows, is a significant factor in who can be attracted to farm, an occupation that requires a wide variety of skills and strength of character. In her article, Anne provides a road map for decision making with many practical examples. To read the whole article please go to:


Odairy Live! Ask the Vet Q & A

Susan Beal, DVM and PASA Agriculture Advisor, Pittsburgh, PA and A.J. Luft, DVM, Chickasaw, OH had a lively and very interactive session at the 2013 NODPA Field Days. The two veterinarians complemented each other in answering questions from the audience and those submitted through email and the web. The quality of advice was practical, intelligent and based on their on-farm experience. There were no punches pulled or equivocations about their personal preference or the responsibility that they feel to the animals, producers and the integrity of organic production.
If you want to be part of the NODPA supported and sponsored very active and highly informative list serve please go to:

The most recent issue of the NODPA News has an article that summarizes the last few months of questions and topics on ODairy, written by NODPA’s President, Liz Bawden.  The latest article includes an in-depth conversation about balancing of rations, farm equipment, buying quality seed and salvaging hay after it had had 6 inches of rain on it! To read the rest of the article please go to:


Making Sound Decisions
Using Holistic Management

By Dr. Susan Beal

 “Interestingly, there is rarely an argument about the “how do you want it to be” parts of things.  In farms, families and businesses – and individuals - the debate and dissention typically comes from the “how to get there” portion of things – the tasks, not the actual holistic goal/the holistic context. So, folks argue about whether to have black cows or brown cows, about whether to dairy or raise hogs, about whether to certify organic, about whether to add heirloom tomatoes or chickens or soap-making to the task list. Folks rarely debate about the larger context, the “how do you want it to be” part of things.” To read more about Susan’s personal experience in using Holistic management in her decision making (she is Canadian, but don’t hold that against her!) please go to:


Kevin Engelbert is the key note speaker at the Pig Roast Banquet and NODPA Annual meeting at the NODPA Field Days on September 26 and 27, 2013.

Added September 11, 2013

Jack and Ann Lazor, Butterworks Farm, to receive Farmer Recognition Award at the NODPA Field Days

NODPA regularly recognizes the contributions of organic dairy producers and professionals at its Field Days. This year we are exceptionally pleased to honor Jack and Ann Lazor who started their farm in 1976 and are leaders, mentors and pioneers in organic agriculture. They have grown their farm over the years and also have increased the knowledge, competency and passion of other organic producers. With skills, passion, and lots of practical experience under their belts they have helped many farmers - young and old; experienced and green behind the ears – get pointed in the right direction. Jack mentors farmers on soil quality, grain production and implements, and Ann spreads her animal health wisdom, specifically the use of herbs and homeopathy to address prevention and treatment options. For more on Jack and Ann please go to:


Using Multi-Species Cover Crops
for Your Benefit

Multi-species cover cropping (a.k.a. crop cocktails) has gained a lot of attention among farmers.
Mixes of cover crops can be used to prevent soil erosion, add organic matter to the soil, improve the soil structure, recycle nutrients, and actively feed soil microbes.
On dairy farms, diverse cover crop/forage mixes can bring these benefits and also be utilized to grow nutritious, high energy forage. Dave Wilson, Research Agronomist, King’s Agriseeds says “We want help farmers gain the benefit of lush growing cover crop or forage and also understand the benefits of what’s going on underneath the soil surface. It’s all about the roots; not necessarily the growth you see above ground, but what is going on beneath.” For more examples of different cropping ideas and some great photographs please go to Dave’s article at:


On Friday afternoon at the NODPA Field Days Dave Wilson, King’s AgriSeeds, Ronks, PA; Jeff Moyer, Farm Director, Rodale Institute, Kutztown, PA; and Charlie White, Sustainable Agriculture Extension Associate, Penn State Extension, will be presenting a workshop titled: Multi Species Cover Cropping (a.k.a. Crop Cocktails).

Using Biologicals in the Organic Herd

A.J. Luft maintains that “the old cliché that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is just as good today or tomorrow as it was yesterday.” A classic example of this is the careful use of vaccines. Dr. Luft, while not a “not a big pusher of vaccines in my practice”, does consider how they can play an important role in the management of an organic livestock operation. For more examples of where vaccines might be a useful tool for producers, please go to:


Dr. A.J. will be a speaker at the NODPA Field Days on September 27th ; he and Dr. Susan Beal will be panelists on a workshop titled: ‘ODairy Live! Ask the Vet Q&A’. Send your ‘ask the vet’ questions to NODPA at and we will make sure they get to Susan and A.J. for their workshop.

Say YES to permanently exempting all organically certified operations from paying into federal mandatory check-off programs

Say NO to setting up an Organic Check-Off

There are a lot of things organic farmers need to know about the Organic Check-Off program which the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is very actively lobbying Congress to pass. It is critical that all organic farmers understand how this will impact them and immediately express their views on this important issue.

  1. Did you know that the mandatory federal Organic Check-Off Program being pushed through Congress RIGHT NOW can’t promote organic as anything different than other farm products?
  2. Did you know that any generic promotion of organic product will just increase organic imports and lower the price paid to US farmers
  3. Did you know that the mandatory federal Organic Check-Off Program will be another tax imposed on organic farmers’ already limited income?
  4. Did you know that the Organic Trade Association is attempting to force through an application to the USDA to establish an organic check-off under the USDA’s very restrictive and bureaucratic structure? In exchange for support for their proposal, OTA is giving away free iPads!
  5. Did you know that once an Organic Check-Off Program is set up all exemptions from check-off programs for any organic operations will disappear?
  6. What will be next – a multi-commodity check-off to support genetically grown crops!

As individuals, you can sign this petition that says that you DO NOT support the establishment of an Organic Check-off program but you DO support a permanent exemption which would exempt all organically certified operations from paying into federal mandatory check-off programs. Please go to:

As an organization, you can sign on to a letter that states your organization is opposed to the creation of an Organic Check-off Program but supports exempting all organically certified operations from paying into any of the existing check-off programs. To sign on to the letter please send an email to with NO to an Organic Check-Off in the subject line. To read the letter please go to: support letter for sign on by organizations opposing a check-off 8.14.13.pdf

Feed and Pay Price

Organic fluid milk sales are growing steadily with some strong competition in the dairy case in the Northeast as Horizon Organic maintains the number one position in retail sales, with sales of store brand/private label in second place. While the average retail price remains fairly stable the low end of the retail price is currently $2.59 per half gallon which will be for in-store brand promotions and store brand loss leader promotions as organic milk is used to attract organic shoppers. Contracted pay price for producers hasn’t changed and with component and quality bonuses the farm-gate price is reaching the mid $30 per hundred for many producers but profitability for all but the most established organic farms is still dropping. Organic Valley has sent its member-owners notice of a 100% base quota (they will only pay full price for the base production agreed between the company and producer) with a $12.00 per cwt deduct for milk produced over that quota each month starting with October 1st 2013 production. This quota is to remain in effect until conditions improve for Organic Valley and will affect those producers who have recently expanded or those that regularly produce over their agreed base. While the cooperative leaders are optimistic that they will not have to impose an actual quota they are also facing an initiative by Stonyfield to investigate setting up their own milk pool in the Northeast. For more details and charts showing the growth of organic sales and the increase in the retail price over time please go to: LINK

Corn and Soybean prices are generally running under 2012 levels but hay and forage are higher, especially in the Midwest where the weather has followed an unpredictable roller coaster of extremes. While the contracted prices are lower there is no thought or indication that these slightly lower prices will be passed on to producers who purchase pelleted feed. In the Northeast 2012 had a summer drought that burnt up the pastures and cut the yields on field crops and hay and 2013 has seen excess rainfall causing late planting and delayed harvesting but the pastures are still growing. Corn yields in the East are generally predicted to be higher than those in Central US but concerns of an early frost and late planting makes predictions difficult.  For more information please go to:

Feed Update

Price Update

Added July 30, 2013

NODPA’s 13th Annual Field Days’ is just around the corner – September 26 and 27

This year’s event takes place in North Central Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday, September 26th and 27th at the Mansfield Hose Company Banquet Hall in Mansfield, PA. With a program, titled Organic Dairy: Innovative Strategies to Stay Profitable, NODPA is collaborating with Holistic Management International (HMI), with a farm tour and educational sessions that will interest everyone.

For more details and to register go to:


Pasture Quality Variation Throughout The Grazing Season

It is important for dairy producers and their nutritionists to have an idea of the nutritional quality of the pasture they are providing to their cows. The ideal way to assess forage quality is to gather a representative forage sample from a given area, send it to a commercial lab and wait patiently for a detailed report of nutrient composition. Unfortunately, the cost of forage testing can be a limitation to producers and the time it takes to get results prevents its use to monitor pastures as they are grazed. On-going research projects conducted by the USDA-ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management
Research Unit in State College, PA can provide examples of monthly pasture quality for grazing dairy farms in this region. Read the article by USDA ARS Aimee Hafla to learn more:


Cocktail Cover Cropping

A cropping strategy that aspires to the diversity and productivity of native prairie called Cocktail Cover Cropping has taken root in Burleigh County, North Dakota and is spreading through US production agriculture.

The outcomes that are spurring uptake include increased soil health, elimination of erosion, reduced nutrient loss to leaching, reduced inputs, increased production and profit, efficient use of precipitation, drought resistance, impressive livestock performance when the crops are (lightly) grazed and more.

The farmer-graziers, NRCS personnel and scientists who have been leading the cocktail charge are doing a fine job of experimenting, unraveling the mysteries of the strategy, and translating their insights into practical lessons.

Abe Collins believes that the advantages of cocktail cover cropping could address some of the needs of Northeastern agriculture and watershed health and give us a powerful new set of tools for success. To learn more about what Cocktail Cover Cropping is and why farmers are adopting it please go to:


USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Sound and Sensible: Producers need
to have input

The NOP has recently launched the Sound and Sensible program to “identify and remove barriers to certification, streamline the certification process, focus enforcement, and work with farmers and processors to correct small issues before they become larger ones. The overall goal of this new initiative is to make organic certification accessible, attainable, and affordable for all operations.” Certifiers through their organization, the Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA), have been meeting and have drawn up recommendations and reports and it is important for all producers to comment on this program either directly to the NOP or -if you fear repercussion from certifiers - to NODPA so we can represent producers’ concerns and challenges. NODPA has in the past suggested ways in which certification can be streamlined which include: one common form used by all certifiers; educated and competent inspectors; one list of accepted products that can be used in organic production and consistent interpretations of the standards by all certifiers. We must not lose the gold standard approach to third party audited certification from field to table, nor have a process that is not robust and detailed. ‘Sound and Sensible’ cannot mean ‘easy and lax’ but we should not  dismiss common sense interpretations of regulations by qualified inspectors based on high quality organic production methods. Many producers are tired of being treated suspiciously as likely 'cheaters' by organic certifiers.  The whole organic certification process, with mountains of repetitious, invasive and semi-insulting paperwork, year-long harassment, and the stress of clue-less demands by non-farmers in the certification office, can be extremely annoying.  An inspection of an organic dairy should not be as short as two hours nor as long as ten and an inspector needs to spend ample time in the field not just riding the property in the farm pick-up.

For more information please go to the NOP Blog at :

The Organic Check-Off :
OTA pushes its initiative through Webinars and mass mailings

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) conducted a webinar explaining their plans for taking the Check-Off through to the next steps. The presentation followed previous OTA organized webinars and meetings of being highly scripted with no real interest in feedback and a goal of updating and educating participants about where the OTA was in the process. The 27 participants who included the OTA presenters and staff were all muted but could type questions for the OTA group to answer verbally.

No real answers to the difficult questions were given - such as how the money was going to be collected from those not in the existing check-off program - but they had investigated whether organic producers could exempt themselves from both a conventional check-off and an organic one (the legislative language says you have to choose one or the other) and apparently their legal advice is that it can be done.
If the intent was to allow organic producers to continue to exempt themselves from all check-offs why put that in the language in the first place?

This is another area where we need a strong producer voice which has to be heard outside of the OTA process as it appears they will allow little real or effective input into their proposal, preferring to continue down their pre-determined pathway to a federal check-off program.

Watch for more details on ways to present the producers point of view. For more back ground on the issue please go to:

Added June 3, 2013

The 13th Annual NODPA Field Days, September 26 & 27, 2013, Mansfield, PA

NODPA’s 13th annual Field Days’ program, Organic Dairy: Innovative Strategies to Stay Profitable is coming together and promises to have activities and educational sessions that will interest everyone. This year’s event will be at the Mansfield Hose Company Banquet Hall in Mansfield, PA on Thursday and Friday, September 26th and 27th.

For information on how to register, sponsorship and tradeshow opportunities, and a detailed program schedule, please go to: 


An Introduction to Holistic Management

As a Whole Farm/Ranch Planning process, Holistic Management helps farmers and ranchers better manage agricultural resources in order to reap sustainable environmental, economic, and social benefits. This “triple bottom line” of benefits can be achieved by more effectively managing resources. There are two key principles and 6 key practices that help people manage holistically. These principles and practices, as a comprehensive adaptive management process, have helped thousands of people around the world achieve some pretty amazing results. For more information on Holistic Management go to the article written by Ann Adams, Director of Education for Holistic management International (HMI):


Raw Milk as a Pasture Biostimulant

The cost to renovate poor quality, low productive pastures can be very high for organic farmers. To manage this problem, some graziers are experimenting with highly active biological compounds known as positive plant growth regulators, metabolic enhancers, and biostimulants. These compounds, which are neither fertilizers nor pesticides, promote efficient plant nutrient uptake and enhance plant growth and development through a wide variety of mechanisms. They are typically applied in very small amounts to the soil or sprayed directly onto the plant. Humic acids and seaweed extracts are well known examples. Raw cow milk has been suggested as an effective pasture biostimulant. Raw milk has been used as a crop amendment for centuries. It contains proteins and other compounds which are established fungicides and viricides. For more information on the use of raw milk on pasture please go to the article by Bridget Jamison and Sid Bosworth from the University of Vermont:


On-line Resources
for the Organic Dairy Producer

As the World Wide Web (www) has become more dynamic and accessible, organizations and educational groups are taking advantage of this dynamic technology. It is getting easier than ever to go on-line, search, and find very useful information on organic dairy production and grazing management –both in video and written form. At NODPA we appreciate the virtual world but we have heard from farmers that these resources do not replace the written word presented on paper so we will continue to publish our bimonthly newsletter as well as working hard on keeping our web site current and resources up to date. For ease of reference we have compiled some resources in one article, and will continue to share others in future issues.


GMO’s – coexistence not working as Unapproved, Genetically Engineered Wheat is Found in Oregon Farmer's Field

For those that have been suggesting that co-existence and a form of crop insurance will safeguard those farmers that choose not to use GMO’s – whether they are organically certified or not – got a rude awaking with the discovery of unlicensed genetically modified wheat in Oregon. As different markets are reacting by prohibiting imports, this incident shows the prevalence of GMO contamination and why USDA should  move quickly to prohibit open-air field testing of genetically engineered crops. For more details please go to:

Pay price update

AMS reports this week sales of organic fluid milk were 186 million pounds in March 2013, up 0.1% from March 2012. Bucking the trend in general milk consumption, organic Whole Milk sales for March 2013 were at 49 million pounds, up 7.5% compared with March 2012 and up 5.2% year-to-date compared with last year. Organic Reduced Fat Milk sales for March were 52 million pounds, 1.6% above sales one year earlier and 0.9% above year-to-date. The average retail price for an organic half gallon in May was $3.43 with a $1.80 range in the highest and lowest prices ($2.59-$4.29). The trend in the average retail price for an organic half gallon has been slowly rising from $3.41 in January 2012 to $3.60 in May 2013. Producer are receiving approximately 38% of the retail price while non-organic producers receive approximately 50% of the retail price. For more details on pay price and the organic dairy marketplace please go to:


Feed price update

It is reported that larger volumes of organic corn and soybeans are being imported by the boat and car load rather than just by the container. With the outlook moving forward for a continuing $12-14 contracted price for the Fall, US growers are watching the weather while anticipating being undercut by imports. USDA reports that approximately half the planting of organic corn is completed, with the eastern belt being the furthest along. The weather and slow planting of corn might increase the acreage planted to soybeans. In the Midwest there are continuing reports of poor grazing and forage, with questions about how much can be conserved for the winter and predictions of increased costs for those purchasing organic hay and bedding straw. No other new data to report.

Added May 19, 2013

Richard H. Mathews has been hired as the Western Organic Producers Alliance (WODPA) New Executive Director

A message from Rick: On May 15, 2013, with great pleasure, I began work as Executive Director of the Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (WODPA). 

WODPA’s mission is to preserve, protect, and ensure the sustainability and integrity of organic dairy farming across the West.  As Executive Director, I am responsible for furthering that mission by working with the Board of Directors and State Representatives to manage and develop the organization. Our ultimate goal is a sound, vibrant, sustainable organic dairy sector.

I retired from the USDA in late 2009 with nearly 34 years of experience serving American Agriculture through various USDA positions and programs; including about 11 years in leadership positions with the National Organic Program. 
So why would I take on this position?  Developing the access to pasture rule drew me close to the organic dairy sector where I had the pleasure of working closely with many of the sector’s good people.  That experience instilled a keen desire to see organic dairying thrive.  WODPA has that same desire.  Accordingly, I want to use my skills and knowledge to help WODPA in its quest to make its mission a reality. Not only do I look forward to working with the WODPA membership, I also look forward to working closely with Ed Maltby and the rest of NODPA’s leadership.

To access WODPA website please go to:

Managing Flies on Your Organic Dairy Farm

In this timely article Dr. Paul Dettloff and Dr. Sarah Slaby take a look at flies or musca domistica which have been around since man appeared, and will continue to irritate both dairymen and their cows. The two veterinarians look at the many different ways in which flies can be dealt with from sticky tape, feeding higher levels of kelp, predator wasps, barn sparrows and many ingenious mechanical traps. To learn more about what harm flies will do and ways to keep the population, down please go to:


The Cost of Low Blood Calcium
in Dairy Cows

Dairy farmers know the signs of milk fever and how it can impact transition cow performance, but few are aware of the negative impacts of mildly low blood calcium levels.  New research is shedding light on how fresh cow blood calcium levels affect fresh cow performance and production. 
Dr. Ryan Leiterman tries to answer the following questions and give advice on how to apply the answers to your dairy:

  • What costs my herd more money; down milk fevers or mildly low blood calcium levels?
  • So what if some cows have mildly low blood calcium?  They look healthy and normal. 
  • What are the preferred treatment options for mildly low blood calcium levels?
  • What groups of cows are at risk of low blood calcium levels upon freshening?

For the answers to these question and much more please go to:


Meet Your NODPA State Representatives

NODPA started in February 2001 at a summit meeting of organic dairy producers in the Northeast after one processor arbitrarily lowered their farm gate price and farmers’ future pay price was threatened. These producers came together to discuss critical issues within the organic dairy industry including: maintaining a sustainable milk price; the National Organic Program; alternative milk markets; and building effective communication lines between fellow producers in the Northeast and beyond. NODPA is a grass roots organization of organic dairy producers with minimal bureaucracy and a transparent and open decision making process open to all those interested in the future of organic dairy. NODPA has remained true to its original goal and is now a membership organization structured as a 501C5 trade group and is governed by organic dairy producers who meet regularly by conference call and annually in-person as either Board members or State Representatives. NODPA has a very active and committed Board and team of State Representatives that work together with NODPA staff to fulfill the mission of the organization.

In a previous issue of NODPA we profiled the current Board members and below are the State Representatives all of whom donate their time to fulfill NODPA’s mission. Any organic dairy farmer who wishes to become a state representative or just be involved in conference calls and NODPA discussions should call NODPA president, Liz Baldwin – 315-324-6926. For the full article:


National Organic Standards Board meeting in Portland, Oregon, April 9 -11, 2013

The meeting of the National Organic Standards Board, which occurs twice a year, provided a public forum for the organic community to weigh in on issues concerning organic production and processing. The controversial and much discussed petition that tetracycline be put back on the National List and the existing expiration date of October 21, 2014 be removed attracted a great deal of public attention and comment at the meeting. Before and during the meeting there were much maneuvering and discussions to reach a compromise because of the serious effect that a ban may have on farmers who are using it now and may have no alternatives for fire blight. There were many articulate statements by all the Board members as they grappled with the tension between consumer expectations, scientific knowledge and the practicality of organic production The Crops Subcommittee proposed that the antibiotic be removed at a later date and this proposal was rejected by the whole of the NOSB. As the regulation stands right now, use of tetracycline (oxytet is the name growers know) will be prohibited after October 21, 2014. For all the details on what was voted on and some insight into the way the NOSB dealt with the controversy, please go to:


The 13th Annual NODPA Field Days, September 26 & 27, 2013 at Mansfield, PA

NODPA’s 13th annual Field Days’ program, Organic Dairy: Innovative Strategies to Stay Profitable is coming together and promises to have activities and educational sessions that will interest everyone. This year’s event will be at the Mansfield Hose Company Banquet Hall in Mansfield, PA on Thursday and Friday, September 26th and 27th.

This year, NODPA is partnering with Holistic Management International (HMI) to create an agenda that provides the tools for organic dairy farm families to enhance the health, productivity and profitability of their land and family while effectively and significantly increasing annual profits. Sessions will be on New Trends in Cover Crop Cocktails; a ‘Live Odairy’ Q & A session with Veterinarians Susan Beal and Cindy Lankenau; and policy update and news from Washington DC.  Following lunch and the time-honored door prize drawings, the afternoon will be devoted to the on-farm experimental work of growing Sprouted Grains as Fodder. Roman Stoltzfoos, Andrew Dykstra and John Stoltzfus will share their experiences.  

Feed Price Update

Current market prices for feed have changed little in the last few months. What everyone is watching is the weather and the world demand for corn. With a new seemingly steady price for non-organic corn of between $6-7 per bushel there will not be many transitioning to organic production. With the number of organic egg layers jumping by 3 million between July 2011 (5 million) and April 2013 (8.190 million), the demand for organic feed from organic poultry folks is dominating the market. Future prices for next fall show no signs of dropping so dairy producers should be budgeting for similar price of organic corn for 2014, and if the weather is not amenable they will go higher. For more details please go to:


Added April 9, 2013

OTA announces moving to the next stage of establishing an Organic check-off program

At a time when organic and sustainable agriculture are being attacked from all sides in Congress, OTA has decided to move to the next level in its bid to establish an Organic Research and Promotion Program. These actions will continue to split the organic community, especially in the eyes of Congress, at a time when we need to be working together.

In the spring edition of the Organic Report, OTA laid out their plan to mail out information to 20,000 certified operations plus send postcards and emails to promote a website that only promotes the benefits of an organic federal check-off program . The website does not point out the disadvantages, the legal problems and all the many issues raised by producer and consumer groups nor does it provide a link to the NODPA webpage that highlights these problems. OTA continues to promote a ‘discussion’ that has a pre-determined conclusion and continues to fail to accurately report comments made at their Town Hall meetings. Despite their protests that they are not promoting a mandatory Federal Research and Promotion Program, all their promotional materials push the idea and they are now distorting the reality by calling it a “cooperative research and marketing program.”

Our request again to the OTA Board, the OTA Check-off Steering Committee and OTA staff is to re-consider their approach to this issue and prevent a rift in the organic community.

  • We ALL say yes to continue to ask Congress to amend the 2002 language so that all organic certified operations can be exempt from paying into the conventional check-off program, returning money to producers and processors to use as they wish.
  • We ask the OTA to STOP advocating for organic to become a commodity under the Federal Research and Promotion Program – there is a great deal of opposition to the idea. To ask for regulatory language now is premature and pre-determines the outcome of any community dialogue.
  • WE ask the OTA to work with all groups to develop a process to have a community dialogue that is transparent, accessible to everyone with an outcome that is not pre-determined and not organized by any one organization. The current messaging and Town Hall meetings are controlled by OTA and direct the discussion to only one outcome that many in the organic community do not want. There is a great model for consulting the organic community that was used to develop the Organic Action Plan and we suggest that this could be one alternative way to reach out to everyone in an open, honest and transparent way.

Say NO to dividing the organic community –
Say YES to working together to provide a solution

For more information please go to:

NODPA’s Webpage: and

OTA’s Webpage: and

Feed and Pay price

USDA AMS reports that the total organic fluid milk sales for January 2013 of 189 million pounds, down 1.8% from January 2012. Organic Whole Milk sales for January 2013 of 51 million pounds were up 7.2% compared with January 2012.  Organic fluid milk sales for 2012 were 4% higher than in 2011, an increase in retail sales of 3.25 million ½ gallons of organic milk or the production from 98 herds of 60 cows producing an average of 14,000 lbs. per year. As we have seen smaller herd disappear from organic production in the northeast one must assume that this increase in production comes from herds that have economies of scale or have the ability to grow their own feed.

The average retail price of an organic milk half gallon remains in the mid-$3 range at $3.59, but more interesting the gap between the high and low price has lessened with a price range of $2.79 to $3.99. The all-important gap between non-organic and organic retail price on average is now down to $1.55 per ½ gallon which is one of the lowest this year but not as low as one year ago when the price spread was only 96 cents, with conventional half gallons priced at $2.12 and organic half gallons priced at $3.08. For more details please go to:


Organic feed prices have not followed the non-organic price down but trading reported by USDA AMS is at a near standstill as buyers have their needs met despite growers wanting to sell inventory. Quality forage is hard to come by as spring grazing in the Northeast is slow to start up. For updated data please go to:


Renovating Pastures with
Frost-Seeded Clovers

Frost seeding has traditionally been an economical way to use legumes to thicken an existing grass stand or to establish a clover mix in an overwintering small grain stand (wheat is the most common, but rye and triticale are also frequently used).  In some cases, thinning alfalfa stands can also be improved with a frost-seeding of clovers. Dave Wilson, Forage Research Agronomist at Kings AgriSeeds, has an informative and timely article on frost seeding:


Evaluating Perennial Ryegrass Blends for Improving Pasture Productivity and Extending the Grazing Season

A 2010 needs assessment of organic dairy producers in the Northeast region revealed that extending the grazing season, complying with the new pasture rules, and implementing strategies to facilitate value-added marketing of milk are major challenges to the industry.  To address these issues, a multi-state team of university and USDA researchers and extension specialists, collaborating with several organic dairy farms, were successful in obtaining a USDA-Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative grant titled, “Assessing Organic Dairy Producers to Meet the Demands of New and Emerging Milk Markets.”  This multi-year grant has many objectives including 1) the assessment of multi-cultivar mixtures for optimizing pasture resources while extending the grazing season, 2) identification of annual forages to enhance and extend the grazing season while improving nutritional quality, and 3) evaluating the utility of supplemental organic flaxseed to further bolster health beneficial fatty acid components and enhance the marketability of organic milk. To read an article by Sid Bosworth, Extension Forage Specialist, University of Vermont on the first objective please go to:


UNH wants to hear from you on kelp meal – survey should be in your mailbox

The use of kelp meal in the Northeast is believed to be widespread and in order to continue with future research in this area, we are asking NODPA members to fill out a brief survey about kelp meal. This survey will give farmers an opportunity to share questions, comments, and concerns about kelp meal supplementation and will provide UNH researchers with valuable information on the demographics and feeding practices related to kelp meal. Please look for this upcoming survey and mail back your responses using the pre-addressed and pre-paid envelopes. Please contact Dr. André Brito [Assistant Professor of Organic Dairy Management;; (603) 862-1341] with any questions. Download the full survey at:

UNH_Kelp Meal Survey_NODPA.pdf

US Organic Dairy Politics survey

It’s just 9 questions, and your comments are important.
Paste in your server or hit:

Feel free to forward to others. More info is in the survey, or from me. Thanks! Bruce.
Honorary Research Fellow
Durham University Geography Dept. UK

Lice – The Quiet Thief

“Some things never change. I get the same scenario every winter, starting about in December, depending on when fall turns into winter,” says Dr Paul Detloff .

When farmers in the northern climates lock up their cows, they also lock up the lice that have been spending their summers in their cow’s ears. Lice cannot handle skin temperatures of 106 or higher; they will jump ship. If the skin temperature hits 122-123 degrees, they die. The sun is a louse’s demise. Dr Paul Dettloff has a large animal practice in Aracadia, Wisconsin, and has worked with CROPP Cooperative (Organic Valley) as a consulting veterinarian since 2002. He is the author of a popular book titled ‘Alternative Treatments for Ruminants Animals’ and has his own product line of Dr Paul’s Health products for livestock. To read his full article, please go to:


Added March 18, 2013

13th Annual NODPA Field Days,
September 26 & 27, 2013

with KTS Farm Tour and in conjunction with Holistic Management International

Planning has begun for NODPA’s 13th Annual Field Days that will be held at Mansfield Hose Company Banquet Hall, Mansfield, Pennsylvania on September 26 & 27, 2013. Our agenda is taking shape around providing organic dairy farmers the tools to enhance the health, productivity and profitability of their land and family while effectively and significantly increasing annual profits. On Thursday, in conjunction with Holistic Management International, NODPA will focus on whole farm planning using holistic management principles and will visit Kress and Tammy Simpson’s KTS Farm, Mansfield PA, to view these practices in action. Friday will focus on the important and timely issues confronting all organic dairy farm families, along with educational workshops.

In addition to a strong educational agenda and instructive farm tour, we will have our annual social hour and banquet, featuring local, organic food, and NODPA’s Annual Meeting on Thursday evening, and our producer-only meeting on Friday morning.  You will be able to visit the diverse trade show throughout the two-day event, and will have many opportunities to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. More information on the agenda will follow in the May NODPA News and online, at, so for now, SAVE THE DATE!

Look for Sponsorship and Tradeshow information in your email and mailboxes in the near future. For more information, or if you have questions about sponsoring or exhibiting at the NODPA Field Days, contact NODPA Field Days Coordinator Nora Owens anytime at or 413-772-0444.

Organic Check-off at the MOSES Conference
Farmers unequivocally say “NO” to OTA’s idea of a standard program, open to further discussion

Inevitably, any discussion on the Organic Trade Association (OTA) proposal for a way to fund organic research and promotion must return to the three issues which have dominated the process since it became public in January 2012. The response to these issues that came out of the MOSES conference and associated meetings can be summarized as follows:

  • Yes for all organic and sustainable agriculture groups to making it a legislative priority to ask Congress to pass regulatory language allowing all organically certified operations to opt out of paying into the existing Federal Research and Promotion Program’s (FRPP). This will give the money back to producers and processors.
  • No to asking Congress to approve regulatory language that would establish organic as a single commodity under FRPP rules. Such a move is premature and should not be a legislative priority for OTA.
  • Yes to changing the format and coordination of the process of education and consultation with the organic community about ways to fund promotion of organic research and promotion. Such a process should be accessible to all participants in organic production, marketing and retailing and coordinated by a cross section of the organic community not a single organization. Many have suggested that the process used in developing the Organic Action Plan was a better model to follow.

For the complete article please go to:

For more information please go to:
NODPA’s Webpage AND
OTA’s Webpage:

Results from Short-Term Studies Using Kelp Meal as a Supplement to Dairy Animals at the University of New Hampshire
by Nicole Antaya and Andre F. Brito

For the past three years several studies were done at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) investigating the effectiveness of kelp meal supplementation to dairy animals (i.e., calves and lactating cows). Most of this research was conducted at the UNH Burley Demeritt Organic Dairy Research Farm, a working dairy farm currently milking 40 registered Jerseys in Lee, New Hampshire. The goal of the research presented here is to provide farmers with rigorous scientific information about the short-term effects of kelp meal on animal performance and milk composition. The UNH team is keen to get producers response to their work, for the full article go to:


UNH wants to hear from you on kelp meal. Watch your mailbox.

The use of kelp meal in the Northeast is believed to be widespread and in order to continue with future research in this area, we are asking NODPA members to fill out a brief survey about kelp meal. This survey will give farmers an opportunity to share questions, comments, and concerns about kelp meal supplementation and will provide UNH researchers with valuable information on the demographics and feeding practices related to kelp meal. Please look for this upcoming survey and mail back your responses using the pre-addressed and pre-paid envelopes. Please contact Dr. André Brito [Assistant Professor of Organic Dairy Management;; (603) 862-1341] with any questions. Download the full survey at:

UNH_Kelp Meal Survey_NODPA.pdf

Feed and Pay Price Updates

Organic milk processors and buyers have implemented increases in pay price through seasonal Market Adjustment Premiums (MAP’s) (with Horizon extending their seasonal payment to June 2013) but costs are rising as rapidly as the premiums are extended. Producers are reporting record high farm-gate pay prices this winter, between $35-$40/cwt with quality and component payments added, but are still having difficulty paying bills. The current market data shows that Horizon is still the leader for sale of retail fluid product but store brand is now in second place ahead of Organic Valley/Stoneyfield Farm brands. Market reports also indicate that more organic milk is going into manufacturing than usual at this time of year as producers adapt their production systems to a higher seasonal price. How this will affect the traditional spring flush of milk, which is usually put into manufactured product or sold on the non-organic market, is uncertain especially as last year the increase was much less than usual.

On March 8th 2013, AMS reported that total organic fluid sales for December 2012 of 174 million pounds, were down 4.3% from December 2011, but up 2.9% January through December 2012 compared with 2011. Organic whole milk sales for December 2012, 48 million pounds, were up 8.2% compared with December 2011, and up 10.4% January through December 2012 compared with 2011. Organic Fat-Reduced milk sales for December 2012 of 126 million pounds were down 8.4% compared with December 2011, but up 0.6% January through December 2012 compared with 2011.

For more information and historical charts on pay price:

For more information on the static level of Feed prices please go to:

For Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM) target pricing for corn and livestock please go to:

National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in Portland, OR, April 9 -11, 2013

The meeting of the National Organic Standards Board, which occurs twice a year, provides a public forum for the organic community to weigh in on issues concerning organic production and processing. The upcoming meeting will take place at the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower, 921 Southwest 6th Avenue, Portland, OR 97204. This meeting will include a proposal to remove the existing expiration date of October 21, 2014 for the use of oxytetracycline in organic apple and pear production and replace that with a new expiration date of October 21, 2016. Within organic regulations there is always a tension between consumer expectations and the practicality of organic production that has been particularly evident in the petition before the NOSB to extend the use of antibiotics in organic tree fruit. All surveys of consumers show that the lack of antibiotics, growth hormones, GE contamination, herbicides and pesticides are key issues for consumers in deciding to purchase organic and is supported by sound scientific data. The NOSB and certifiers now need to reassure consumers that no matter what the effect is on farmers, acres under organic certification or domestic supply to the market, that organic certification will guarantee that there is no permitted use of antibiotics at any level in organic production. Tough on farmers, of course what else would you expect. Perhaps the buyers and marketers who forced growers into growing susceptible varieties can donate money for research and assistance with capital costs to minimize growers’ losses. For a longer article on the NOSB meeting please go to:


Don’t forget to send any comments by Tuesday March 19th
The agenda of topics and current proposals are available at

To submit feedback on the NOSB Subcommittees’ proposals go to You can search for the meeting using this docket number: AMS-NOP-12-0070, or by keywords such as NOSB, Organic, or Portland, or by clicking the link.

Deadline to submit written comments:
11:59PM ET March 19, 2013

Added February 18, 2013

Weed-Eating Heifers
Transition to Pasture More Easily

In July of 2012, the dairy heifers at Green Wind Farm did something that that farm’s heifers had never done before.  They transitioned to pasture without losing condition.  They did it thanks to owner Julie Wolcott using a little bit of animal behavior science to not only teach the heifers to eat weeds, but to also give them the experience they needed to find food in pasture on day one. As an organic dairy farmer Julie was looking for tools to manage her milkweed, brown knapweed and thistle in pasture. Before starting she made sure that the weeds were safe to eat and that they would not cause changes in milk flavor.  Julie worked with Kathy Voth, Livestock for Landscapes, to develop a recipe and a training schedule for teaching her livestock about eating many different plant species. For the complete article by Kathy Voth and some great photos, please go to:


Organic Check-Off discussions at the OFARM annual meeting, the MOSES Conference and OTA Town Hall Meeting at La Crosse WI

Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM) will be holding their annual meeting in La Crosse, WI on 2/20 and 2/21 and they will be sponsoring a checkoff discussion and debate during their meeting. A panel moderated by Patty Lovera, Food and Water Watch Vice-President, will discuss the proposed Organic Research and Promotion Checkoff.  The panel will consist of Richard Mathews, USDA Associate Deputy Administrator (retired), Oren Holle OFARM President and Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director. The panel will discuss the pitfalls, concerns, areas of agreement and alternative structure for a checkoff as proposed plus take part in a Q and A.

Organic Checkoff Workshop at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference- Friday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. Room R at the Conference Center. The make-up of this workshop has changed as the Organic Trade Association representatives who are proponents of the checkoff have withdrawn from participation in the workshop. The workshop will be a discussion of a “variety of options to both fund and oversee this type of program (Organic Research and Promotion Program), plus take questions from attendees.” The panel will consist of Richard Mathews, USDA Associate Deputy Administrator (retired), Oren Holle OFARM President and Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director plus others invited. 

On Saturday, February 24 at 8:30 a.m. the Organic Trade Association will hold a Town Hall Meeting on their proposed Organic Research and Promotion Order. The venue for the meeting is not posted on their website at this time but we understand it will be held at the Radisson, La Crosse, WI. For more information on the OTA proposal:

Jim Riddle’s thoughts on
an Organic Check-OFF

Jim is one of the leaders of the organic community. He has a long history within organic and sustainable agriculture dating back to his work with the Land Stewardship Project in 1983. More recently he was the Chair of the NOSB, is a popular and well respected speaker at conferences and continues his work as an educator at the University of Minnesota, plus being an expert on organic policy, a proponent of organic and sustainable agriculture and last but not least a farmer.
Jim’s thoughts include the following “If a check off is implemented, I am concerned that organic agriculture could be forever relegated to a niche market status, when the larger goal is to change all of agriculture to be ecologically sustainable. Organic should be integrated into all agricultural programs, including research and promotion, rather than being pushed off to the side with its own pot of money.” To download the complete text of Jim’s position please go to:

Jim-Riddle-Thoughts on an Organic Checkoff.docx

For more information on the Check-off please go to:   

Pay and Retail Price update

The current reality with organic pay price is that processors are offering increases in pay price though seasonal Market Adjustment Premiums (MAP’s) but costs are rising as rapidly as the premiums are extended. Producers are reporting record high farm-gate pay prices this winter, between $35-$40/cwt with quality and component payments added, but are still having difficulty paying bills. In the Northeast, both Horizon and Organic Valley are paying the same pay price before quality premiums are added, $30-31/cwt when seasonal MAP’s are averaged over the whole year, which is only $3 higher than 2008. With the expansion of Trickling Springs processor which produces an all grass fed organic product (“Cows are grass-fed**we allow minimal grain feeding for the cows body condition”) there is more interest in the work that Pennsylvania Certified Organic is doing on an all grass-fed label with the usual discussions around how pure the standards should be. More choices for producers in who they can sell their milk to is always good and in the past has brought higher pay prices. The producers in the West are feeling the strain as their cost of feed and purchased forage continue to increase and its time to address again the regional criteria for establishing pay price as the price of producing organic milk increases across the whole country. Perhaps this is an issue that the nine candidates for the CROPP Board can address along with the declining, and many times non-existent, profitability of organic family dairy farms.  For more information, charts and graphs on what is happening in the organic dairy sector please go to:


Feeding Homegrown Forages

Growing your own forages has never been more important than now. After two years of tough growing conditions for the Midwest, the costs of inputs continue to rise. When you evaluate your farming systems from a holistic standpoint, you must be conscious of the inputs over which you can have the most control. In years past the traditional dairy farm model has been to grow forages and buy grains. As of late, the recommendation is increasingly to grow both your own forages and grains. This puts the ‘ball in your court’ and allows you to control more of your farms’ inputs. By producing your own inputs, you can decide whether or not these crops feed livestock or are sold on the market. For the complete article by Joshua Baker of Kings AgriSeeds please go to:


Feed Price Update

On a recent conference call with organic dairy producers from across the country it was very clear that everyone has been fine-tuning their calculations about the inventory of their feed as availability of purchased organic forage and grain is both spotty and expensive. It is at times like this when the pay price, though relatively high with extended MAP’s, good component pricing and seasonal payments, doesn’t cover cost of inputs, that the integrity of organic production is stretched with the temptation to purchase non-organic feed. Organic dairy farm families need to be paid enough to support their cost of production as we must now plan for cost of feed and inputs at new high norms. Corn has been at over $12/bushel for over a year and shows no sign of declining and organic soybean contract for delivery in October 2013 are priced at $28/bushel. If parity pricing was an accepted form of deciding pay price, the organic pay price would be at least $20 higher than it is now.  For more details and graphs about feed prices, please go to:


Cornell Organic Dairy Business Summary 2011

The Dairy Farm Business Summary is completed annually and is used to measure the progress of the farm business. Financial, herd and crop data are gathered to give the user an accurate picture of the farming operation at a specific point in time, usually the end of the year. The program used is web based on a secure server to preserve the confidentiality of the information. Cornell Cooperative extension personnel usually assist the producer in completing the data input, but with some training producers who are comfortable with computers can easily complete the program themselves. Data is reviewed by Cornell University farm management faculty for completeness and accuracy before being accepted as part of the database. For all the details and full report on organic dairy by Richard Overton, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Linda Putnam, Extension Support Specialist please go to:


Farmers are Responding to the Census.
Are You? USDA Says, Its Not too Late

Gary R. Keough, Director, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service New England Field Office says farmers and ranchers are not missing an opportunity to have their voices heard and their farms represented in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. According to the U.S. Department of Agricultures National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), almost 1.5 million Census forms were submitted by farmers, helping ensure communities and agricultural industry have a voice in the future. For producers who missed the February 4 deadline, NASS is alerting them that its not too late to be counted. The deadline for submitting Census forms was February 4, and many producers have responded. However, those who have not responded will receive a second copy of the form in the mail to give them another opportunity. Farmers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, Farmers that did not receive a questionnaire in the mail can still sign up to get one by registering at They can enter their contact information and we will mail them a questionnaire. If you have questions about the Census or need help filling out your form, visit or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888- 424-7828).

Added January 22, 2013

Parity Price: An explanation and critique
by ex NOSB member and organic dairy farmer Kevin Englebert

When the President of the United States and Congress attached as much importance to the retail price of milk as to the total economy of the nation, we know just how dysfunctional the governance in Washington DC has become. Apart from the simple question of what is wrong with paying dairy farmers a fair price for their milk, there was absolutely no understanding of the underlining principles behind the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 and the rationale of basing the price that farmers are paid on a parity price equivalent – preserving the real value of the pay price farmers get for their milk. Kevin’s article provides a great insight into the economic, political, and social justice of parity pricing. A must-read for all farmers and consumers. To read the full article please goes to: in_parity_pricing_012213.shtml  

Secretary of Agriculture appoints a
working dairy farmer and environmentalist to the NOSB – at last!

In a move that has drawn praise from producers, consumers and environmentalist alike, the U.S. Department of Agriculture appointed environmentalist and farmer, Francis Thicke, Ph.D. to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) on January 15, 2013, adding the valuable perspective of a working farmer, scientist and activist to this 15-member advisory Board. Francis and Susan Thicke own and operate Radiance Dairy, a grass-based organic farm in Southeast Iowa that follows ecological principles in the management of farmland & livestock, the utilization of renewable energy systems for their home and farm, and the production and marketing of their value added dairy products. The Thickes have been farming organically since 1975, got certified in 1992, and moved to a new farm in 1996 changing it from a crop farm (corn and soybeans) to a grass-based enterprise.

For the full article about his appointment, please go to:

For our feature farm article on Francis Thicke please go to: ff_september_2011.shtml

Feed price update

USDA Organic Dairy Market News reported that despite the increase in retail prices, organic sales are at an all-time high for October 2012, approximately 6% higher that October 2011 and 5% higher over the last 12 months. As demand for raw milk increases, pay price remains largely unchanged and the organic dairy farmer share of the retail dollar remains at least 15% lower than their conventional neighbors. But there is no break in the price for feed with 16% crude protein organic feed nearly double what it was in 2010, even with imports of soybeans and substitution of other grains and alfalfa in pelleted mixes. There’s not much change in the price of corn and soybeans, but many project an increase in product from Canada, China and South America to provide for the US livestock market. The bushel price for corn and soybeans has remained steady at $15 and $28 respectively. The price for soybean meal is steady at $1,175- $1,300 per ton depending on location, but still $400 higher than last year. Corn meal ranges from $600-700 per ton depending on location. Hay is increasingly more difficult to find and prices are around $300 per ton. For all the details please go to:


Recognition of those dedicated organic dairy farmers who steer NODPA’s actions and policies

Who governs NODPA? Organic dairy farmers and only organic dairy farmers can be members and elect the Board of Directors who control the priorities and direction of the organization, the hiring, and firing of its Executive Director. NODPA members are continuously contributing their thoughts and opinions informally and formally through State Representatives and Board members. The Board and State Representatives guide NODPA and make sure that it is staying true it’s mission of “enabling organic dairy family farmers, situated across an extensive area, to have informed discussion about matters critical to the well being of the organic dairy industry as a whole.” They spend countless hours on conference calls, usually after 8:00 pm (with only occasional snoring after a long day’s work!); they contribute financially through the NODPA check-off program; they attend the Annual NODPA Field Days and other events to represent and promote NODPA and organic dairy farmers; they work on editing position papers, articles and press releases; they travel to meet with processors to advocate for a higher pay price and better contractual conditions, and they provide support for NODPA staff. For all the details and short bios on NODPA Board members please go to: in_NODPA_board_012213.shtml

NODPA makes it easier to Renew Your Subscription and support the organization

At the last NODPA Field Days the NODPA Board and State Reps agreed that we would change our subscription from being variable throughout the year to having all subscriptions come due in January of each year. This will make it easier for producers and subscribers to budget the very competitive dues and also simplify the paperwork attached to sending out renewal reminders. Shortly after you receive this newsletter you will receive an invoice reminder for an annual subscription to support NODPA’s work and continue receiving NODPA’s bi-monthly print publication.

As you consider how to support NODPA you may be wondering where your money goes and what it supports. We believe our job is to devote all our resources to representing the views and needs of organic dairy farm families, especially around pay-price and organic integrity; to provide producers and all those interested in organic dairy with information, opinion, news, production advice and support; to represent producers’ opinions to USDA NOP and to Congress; and to be that squeaky wheel or loud megaphone that reminds folks that without organic dairy producers there is no product to process, package, market, distribute, sell and consume.

Learn more: in_NODPA_Subscription_012213.shtml
Pay Online: support_5ways.shtml

Update on the Organic Check-off

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) representing manufacturers, processors and consumer cooperatives, continues to push their concept of how pooling money under a federally mandated Research and Promotion Program can be a success and be different from all other check-off programs in both how it is governed, administered and distributes money. With no proof of that and a history of family farms being abused by these programs to this day, producers from Maine to California and in-between are giving a resounding ‘no’ to the concept.  Representative Peter Welch of Vermont is championing the OTA proposal within the House and some rumors have it as playing a negative role in the temporary extension of the Farm Bill that was so fair to the progressive programs. OTA obviously doesn’t represent the whole organic community and should be wary about presenting that image as it may backfire on them. OTA is characterizing the creation of an organic commodity under the federal program as just a technical fix. Unfortunately it’s not that simple because once established it will be difficult to have any other national program approved by Congress and the label of organic commodity can be taken and used by others under a different administration to impose solutions on the whole organic community. While dairy, corn and livestock producers are knowledgeable about a check-off, most organic produce growers and packers are not. Some produce growers are horrified by the thought of a check-off on the many different varieties of product they have. OTA talks about making the private organic labels and the large conglomerates pay into a check-off, but the USDA Research and Promotion Programs were not mandated or designed for that and it would require wholesale re-writing of a program to make it suit that perspective. With all the divide and partisanship in Congress, OTA needs to be willing to take a step back, stop pushing for legislation for an organic commodity and re-open dialogue on a good process to move forward. We stand ready to participate in that discussion. For more information on the check-off please go to:

Added December 10, 2012

BA Humbug for organic dairy farmers this Christmas - Feed and Pay Price Update

The current reality with organic pay price is that processors are only offering a small increase in pay price and costs are rising. In the Northeast, both Horizon and Organic Valley are paying the same pay price (29.50- $30/hundred pounds -$1.27 per half gallon) before quality premiums are added, which is only $2 higher than 2008. There seems to be no break in the price for feed with 16% crude protein organic feed nearly double what it was in 2010, even with imports of soybeans and substitution of other grains and alfalfa in pelleted mixes. Factor in high fuel prices, increased costs of other inputs necessary for winter feed conservation, and increases in overhead costs - especially in health insurance, land rent and taxes - and it is clear that costs of production are only continuing to increase. Across the country organic dairy farm families report that they have more debt and more unpaid bills over 30 days than they had two years ago. A recent study from the University of Vermont showed that in 2011 it was more profitable to be a conventional dairy farmer than an organic one.

Organic Valley is reported to have proposed taking $1 from their MAP and adding it to their base for January 2013, recognizing that all input costs have risen, and pay a $2 seasonal payment for November 2012 milk with their usual seasonal payments kicking in December 2012. Horizon is paying their seasonal payment on top of their increased MAP and will consider continuing this seasonal payment into June 2013. Horizon does not have as much flexibility in changing their base price as Organic Valley because the base price is set by contract rather than cooperative agreement. Horizon sees the MAP as a flexible tool that can react quickly to changes in production costs

A recent study by ERS highlights the disparity between organic and conventional producers' share of the retail price. The conventional share of the retail dollar has been around 50% since 2000 and the organic share is around 30%.  It raises the question as to what is a fair price for organic dairy farmers, especially when some processors and manufacturers sell their organic dairy products on the basis of a fair price for their farmers. For more details please go to:


Feed Price Update

Quality and availability of feed is an increasing problem for producers even as the bushel price for corn and soybeans has dropped slightly with the harvesting of this season’s crop and is $15 and $28 respectively, plus the cost of transport. Comparatively the price for corn and soybeans in November 2011 was $11 and $19 per bushel and in November 2010 it was $5 and $16 per bushel respectively. Corn meal in New York is at $620/ton delivered in November 2012 and 16% pelleted feed averaging $730 per ton delivered and no drop in hay prices. Projections for 2013 are for $28 soybeans and $15 corn plus trucking, with no expectations that there will be any transitioning to organic crop production to increase the US average. The price of feed will be determined as much by world climate and trading conditions than by US conditions. For updated charts and information please go to:


Addressing Low Soil Calcium Improves Forage Quality & Economic Return

Success of any organic farming system is linked directly to soil fertility and high quality forages that optimize milk production, and require well-aerated, balanced soils. In this article, Cindy Daley of California State University, Chico, College of Agriculture’s Organic Dairy Program, explains that it takes commitment and blind faith to believe that investing in your soils can actually provide a generous return; a return that continues to pay dividends long after the initial capital investment. At the Chico organic dairy, a long-term soil remediation field trial was designed to study the effects of a basic soil amendment program on forage quality and yield, with an emphasis on the economic return that would result from added milk production. For the complete article, go to:


You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

Do you live as though you will die tomorrow but farm as if you will live forever? Perhaps you subscribe to the philosophy that you have a million dollars and will farm until it has gone! Cash will always flow out but in his article Fay Benson explain how producers can control cash flow by becoming better managers and keeping better records. This all takes time and is not the favorite chore of most people on the farm, but it does assist with organic certification requirements and is a valuable tool in making personal and family decisions. A weakness can become a goal for next year rather than just struggling along. For more information on the 6 workshops coming this winter and more details on the booklet “Managing Organic Dairies for Success”, please go to:


NODPA Website – A wealth of Information

Over 11 years ago, the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance was formed with the mission: ‘To enable organic dairy family farmers, situated across an extensive area, to have informed discussion about matters critical to the wellbeing of the organic dairy industry as a whole.’ In order to see this mission through, it was necessary to create a mode of communication that could reach all organic producers. In order to effectively communicate to all organic dairy producers in the Northeast, NODPA decided to publish a regular print newsletter, complete with industry updates, and organic production articles; livestock health, crops and soils, research and education, and a calendar and classified section. In 2012 our newsletter has grown from a 4-page quarterly newsletter in 2002 to a 40-page bi-monthly publication, plus we have a dynamic website, monthly enewsletter, Facebook page and as ever the very active Odairy list serve. Lisa McCrory has been with the organization from the beginning and for more information please go to her article at:


U of M study will help organic dairy farms become more profitable

Thanks to a USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative grant (OREI), organic dairy farmers, in cooperation with the University of Minnesota's West Central Research and Outreach Center, have recently been awarded a 4 year grant aiming to improve diaries' profitability through improved pasture production, and best management practices for animal comfort, improved cow health, and more milk production. Read more at:


Rural Vermont Needs Your Support!

Rural Vermont was founded in 1985 is the only Vermont non-profit organizing and advocating for farmers’ freedom to produce and their customers’ freedom to buy the food that supports their values. Rural Vermont has a reputation for getting a lot done on a very lean budget. In spite of this commitment to being efficient, it is facing some financial hardship and has started a One-to-One fundraiser (thanks to some generous supporters) with the goal of raising $30,000 by the end of the year. Please consider making a contribution. To learn more about Rural Vermont, it’s list of major accomplishments, and it’s current matching pledge drive, go to


Added November 26, 2012


Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals produced by certain types of fungi that grow on plant material, both in the field or in storage. Mycotoxins are a common problem worldwide, with an estimated 25% of field crops globally affected annually with mycotoxins. The severe drought in the Midwest this year has resulted in significant mycotoxin-contaminated grain that is now moving ‘through the system’ and requires dairy farmers to be even more alert. To read the complete article by Mary-Howell Martens Co-Owner of Lakeview Organic Grain, please go to:


Cream of the Crop: The Economic
Benefits of Organic Dairy Farms

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a new report recently that highlights the economic benefits of organic dairy farms and includes policy recommendations to better enable the growth of this sector and to support local economies. The report looked at financial data from organic and conventional dairy farms in Vermont and Minnesota, and showed larger positive impacts from increased organic sales than similar increases in conventional dairy sales. The report also highlights areas of modest federal support that, if implemented, would help organic dairy farmers who are already contributing to and stabilizing regional economies, and support farmers who want to transition to organic farming. These are:

  • USDA should revise the federal milk marketing orders to account for the ways that organic milk production differs from conventional dairy farming.
  • Congress and the USDA should offer a subsidized insurance program that is customized to the needs of organic dairy farmers.
  • Congress should increase funding for organic agriculture programs.
  • Congress should fund and the USDA should implement programs that support regional food system development, such as rural development grants.

The full report can be found at:

Feed and Pay Price

With gridlock in Washington DC, dairy farmers may be the only group that could benefit from Congress dropping over the financial cliff. With no Farm Bill in January 2013, the USDA Secretary would be legally obligated to  support a pay price equal to parity price which would be $38-40+ per cwt. The current reality with organic pay price is that processors are not offering any increases in pay price. With no MILC subsidies to rely on, processors need to take responsibility for supporting their producers with a higher pay price plus pay the seasonal Market Adjustment Premiums (MAPs).

  • Now would be the time for Organic Valley producers to press their case to their representatives before their Board makes any decisions in December/January. The OV Board faces conflicting tensions between the needs of their farmer-owners for a fair pay price and the need to complete capital projects with a new produce warehouse, an expansion of their warehouse in Cashton WI along with plans for a new office building, the expansion of their not-so-old headquarters building in La Farge, and the purchase of a majority holding in an organic slaughterhouse.
  • Similarly, with Dean cashing out some of their investment in WhiteWave, Horizon producers should continue to question where the company’s priority lies and how Horizon, under their new leadership in procurement, member relations and Chairman, is going to ensure that their farmer partners stay in business.

The trend towards an increase in retail price for store brand organic milk and a shrinking gap between the store brand and branded product continues. USDA  AMS reported that the national weighted average advertised price of organic half gallons of milk is $3.48, with a price range of $2.99 to $4.89; the highest price, $4.89, is for a store brand and the lowest, $2.99, is for both store brands and national brands. Despite the increases in retail prices, sales of fluid product in August 2012 has continued to increase, up 10% from August 2011 and a year to date increase over last year of 5%, with a surprising increase in sales of Whole milk over Fat-Reduced milk.

Click here for latest pay price info >

There’s not much change in the price of corn and soybeans, but many project an increase in product from Canada, China and South America to provide for the US livestock market. The bushel price for corn and soybeans has dropped slightly from August 2012 with the harvesting of this season’s crop and is $15 and $28 respectively. Comparatively the price for corn and soybeans in November 2011 was $11 and $19 per bushel and in November 2010 it was $5 and $16 per bushel respectively.

Go to latest feed prices >

The silver lining is that the cull cow and beef prices still remain high so those that do not have enough feed on hand can lower their cow numbers to match their feed inventory. In the Northeast there are now two buyers for organic cull cows, Organic Prairie and Delft Blue, and there are rumors that a meat packer in southern Vermont is interested in buying more organic livestock.

Upcoming Winter Conferences

This time of year brings us shorter days and (hopefully) some time to ruminate over the previous growing season and start to plan for the next. If a farmer is ever to leave the farm, wintertime is usually the time to get away – if only for a couple days. And what better place to vacation than to a conference where you can mingle with your peers, get inspired by new ideas, and connect with various resources/
consultants that you have been meaning to contact for ages. Some of these might be in your back yard, and others might be interesting enough to warrant a little traveling (although do not change flights in Chicago O’Hare airport!) For more information, click here.

NODPA Field Days Highlights

For those of you that couldn’t attend the NODPA Field Days, and those that did, you can capture some of the atmosphere from the excellent slide show that reflects the beautiful weather for the farm tours and the instructive and interesting workshops throughout the two days. Please go to: to view the photos. For a summary of the Field Days activities and workshops, and links to all resources related to the Field Days, please go to:


Maine Farmers Press for a New Farm Bill

Congress skipped town in September without passing a five-year farm bill. Important safety net programs like the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program and others that support local and regional food systems, renewable energy and beginning farmers were all allowed to expire on September 30. Now that they have returned it is still uncertain about what will happen to a Farm Bill during the lame duck session and whether anything at all will happen. What is always important is that our elected representatives hear directly from farmers who now number less than high tec programmers that design computer aps. New England Farmers Union members joined with more than 200 fellow farmers, ranchers and fishermen from across the country in Washington, D.C., Sept. 10-12, 2012, for the National Farmers Union annual Fall Legislative Fly-In. To read more about their experiences please go to:


Added October 11, 2012

NODPA Field Days and Annual meeting was a resounding success with excellent presentations and many producers in attendance.

For a slideshow of some great pictures of livestock, presenters, producers (the beautiful, the handsome, the debonair and the well….. all the rest of us!) and many great scenes from the Field Days, please go to:

Field Days 2012 Slideshow

We will have a full report on the Field Days in our next NODPA News, but below are some quick impressions with some PowerPoint presentations.

Top Ten Grazing Mistakes

Sarah Flack, Dr. Cindy Daley, and Kathy Soder, gave a great and comprehensive presentation on the challenges and mistakes that can easily be made when working with pasture.

Top 10 grazing mistakes:

  1. Badly designed grazing system & infrastructure
  2. Poor grazing management
  3. Pasture plants being damaged by overgrazing
  4. Low DMI from pasture
  5. Poor plant species selection or diversity
  6. Overfeeding Protein
  7. Poor forage quality due to wrong species, low diversity or over mature plants (low digestibility)
  8. Poor soil fertility
  9. Inadequate records to keep the certifier happy
  10. Overgrazing damage!

For more of their presentation please go to a PDF version of the Powerpoint presentation.

Profitability and Price of Feed

Bob Parsons, Les Morrison and Travis Little gave a very honest, if depressing, assessment of the next few years outlook for purchased feed. Luckily in New England we have feed dealers that are committed to the future of organic livestock family farms and will do everything they can to mitigate the effects of the marketplace. For more information on profitability of organic dairy farms please go to a PDF version of their presentation.

Enhanced Soil Fertility

It is impossible to summarize the presentation on enhancing soil fertility (by Jack Lazor, Heather Darby and Cindy Daley). This presentation will need a longer article to do it justice. Stay tuned for the November issue of the NODPA Newsletter.

Washington Gridlock & Lame Duck Farm Bill
Easier to do is the summary of the Farm Bill that Annette Higby gave followed by Dave Rogers, giving the perspective of how it affects Vermont and what Vermonters can do to influence key, influential legislators. For Annette’s summary of the Farm Bill process and an update from the National Organic Coalition, please go to a PDF version of her presentation.

Diversification of Income Stream
The diversification and your farm’s future was a great session moderated by Fay Benson. Especially pleasing for me was Jeannette Fellow’s presentation as I’ve known Jeannette and Mark for over 15 years and seen firsthand how they have made a profitable organic dairy family farm through hard work. Henry Perkins was his usual ebullient self (he hasn’t quite reached the stage of a stand-up comic) and, despite his injury, he painted a forceful picture of what you can do if you sell your milking cows. Dave Johnson posed many questions about the economics of growing feed and the increasingly difficult challenge of making organic farming pay, reminding us there is no one silver bullet. For more details please go to a PDF version of the presentation.

Mandatory Organic Check-Off
The final session of the day featured the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) proposal for an Organic Check-Off. The OTA presenter, Laura Batcha, presented the idea and process of setting up a mandated, federal organic check-off and answered questions raised by Ed Maltby’s presentation and by farmers in the audience. In brief, OTA committed to uploading onto their website all the minutes and comments from the different presentations they plan to make across the country. The presentations will be in-person at some locations, and they will also share their proposal through webinars and on their website. After they have finished their presentations, OTA will hold a referendum of all US certified operations on whether to have a federal mandated organic check-off, but there was no commitment to present both sides of the question in any material that goes out to certified operations and no real detail on that process. Laura disagreed with many that thought politically it would be possible to have only a technical correction allowing all organic operations to retain their check-off dollars. She insisted that there needed to be a pathway (which has now been renamed a technical correction) to a mandatory organic check-off included in any legislation. In response to one question asking how OTA could rebuild the trust of farmers around the process, Laura said she thought they had been transparent at every level. There were many more questions and comments and the session stretched out for 2 ½ hours and would have gone on longer if we didn’t have to end the Field Days. For more details please view a PDF of the presentation.

Feed Update

The only good news is that the feed situation hasn’t gotten any worse as everyone waits for the results of the harvest. With various and very diverse reports coming from different regions, it is almost impossible for producers that buy their feed direct from the farm to have any idea of the prices. For feed dealers who have locked in prices and contracts for months in advance, their concerns are about quality and grain farmers honoring their contracts, especially on imports. Feed dealers report that many producers on COD and account receivables have increased to levels above what most loan officers will tolerate as the average price for 16% grain increased by 38% over 2011 prices. As one presenter at the NODPA Field Days remarked – “times are tough and there are two things that are not true –everyone lives happily ever after, and a farmer being able to pay next month’s bill if he can’t pay this one.” For more information on what feed prices are doing, please click here.

ODairy Summary

ODairy is a FREE, vibrant listserv for organic dairy farmers, educators and industry representatives who actively participate with questions, advice, shared stories, and discussions of issues critical to the organic dairy industry.
Some of the topics on the list serve from the last couple of months were fly control with one producer looking for suggestions from the group for an effective fly spray. Another producer recommended keeping fly populations in check in bedded pack barns or other good breeding areas by adding humates and soft rock phosphate. Several farmers said they noticed a huge reduction in flies using fly predators. Some use a repellant spray like Ecto-Phyte or No-Fly mixed with soybean oil when the flies are at their peak. One farmer mixes vinegar, citronella, and oil -- but she has problems with the oil clogging the sprayer used for application. Another producer solved that problem by applying her repellant mixture to the cows with a paint brush. And another farmer uses a high-quality battery powered paint sprayer for his oil mixture with good success. Neem oil was also suggested. As you can see there are many ways of solving problems organically! For more on Odairy please click here.

To sign up for the ODairy listserv, go to:

Kimball Brook Farm Gets a Helping Hand

Annette Higby from New England Farmers Union highlights the benefits that can be realized by participating in federal programs, especially the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) that helped Cheryl and J.D. DeVos build their processing facility to bottle organic milk. Kimball Brook Farm is a thriving, all organic dairy farm with a herd of more than 200 cows but they are rapidly becoming the exception as there is now less than 1,000 dairy farms are left in Vermont (about 20% are organic). Fuel costs are rising and dairy producers keep losing money. Young potential farmers are leaving the region. Cheryl and J.D. started Green Mountain Organic Creamery to help with these problems and they hope to expand their business so that they can buy organic milk from other dairy producers nearby, and pay them a livable milk price for their product. For more on the DeVos’s success, please click here.

What’s Grain Got to Do With It?

NOFA Vermont Technical Assistance Program Dairy and Livestock Farmer Discussions October 2012

As you prepare for the winter ahead, join NOFA-VT Farm Advisor Willie Gibson to explore ideas on feed sources and feeding strategies. Discussion groups will also cover long term strategies to enhance your farm’s feed energy production. For details, days, times and locations, click here.

Fearless Farm Finances
Farm Financial Management Demystified

This book combines plain old common sense with some easy to follow accounting software that appeals to both those that pour over the detail s and those that just want the figures (as quickly and easy as possible –please!). Published by Midwest Organic and Sustainable, Education Services (MOSES) this is well worth the $24.95, especially for new farmers. For more on the book review, please click here.

Farmers’ Guide to Organic Contracts: Contracts Demystified

Published by the Farmers Legal Action Group this book is a necessary read for all organic producers, even those that sell very little wholesale products. The book features real life examples of what can and does happen in the market place, and how to ensure that your rights are protected even when there is little room for negotiation or leverage for better conditions. For the free download and more information please go to:

Campaign to Organic:
WODPA Conference in Centralia Washington

The Western Organic Dairy Producers (WODPA) hold their annual Fall Conference and Trade Show later this month on October 23 and 24. Head of the National Organic Program, Miles McEvoy, will speak on the Tuesday and there will be another meeting of the minds between OTA’s Laura Batcha and OFARM’s John Bobbe with an hour-long discussion on the proposed Organic Check-off program on the same day. Don Huber from Purdue University; Bill Marler, a prominent food borne illness lawyer; Dan Ravicher from the Public Patent Foundation; and Frank Endres from the National Farmers Organization will speak on subject from animal health to parity pricing to opposing Monsanto.

If you think you can stand more of Tony Azevedo’s zany sense of humor and want to visit with many excellent organic producers and resource professionals, please go to or email

Added September 10, 2012

Study Finds Mixed Levels of Profitability on Vermont Organic Dairy Farms for 2011
By Bob Parsons, UVM Extension Ag Economist & Professor

The preliminary results for the 2011 financial returns from Vermont’s organic dairy farms show a mixed picture. Organic dairy farms in Vermont show an average profit almost identical to 2010 at $5879, continuing a trend of lower profits since 2006. The return on assets was only 1.3%. In 2011, the average farm of 57.4 cows earned a profit of $40,879 (median of $31,941) before any charges for family withdrawal which was calculated at $35,000, leaving, on average, a return of $5879 (median -$3060) of profits for reinvestment and paying real estate loan principles. In comparison to conventional herds, organic dairy farms were not doing quite as well as conventional herds in 2011. Bob will be on a panel at the upcoming NODPA Field Days on Thursday September 27 and available for answering many questions. For the full report and data, please go to:


Feed Hard To Find, State to State Difference in Price

Corn and soybeans are not only expensive but difficult to find and, with no firm forecasts for the new season, producers are looking at limited availability for alternative feed sources and rapidly increasing prices. Some organic operations are reportedly experiencing a decrease in financial support from lenders, as well as a lack of continued interest in their operations, due to rising costs of feed. Pasture conditions vary in different regions and although there is the opportunity to extend the grazing season, some producers do not have the land base, the climate or the resources to change their production system. The price of corn has continued to increase with a September price at $17/bushel at the farm (it is now higher than the price of soybean in June 2010) along with soybeans, at $29.50/bushel, with soybean meal exceeding $1,300 per ton. For more details, please go to:


No increase in Pay Price as sales increase by 6 per cent & supply dries up

Times are tough! With no good news on the price of feed and no pay price increase in sight, milk supplies are tightening as producers cut back on purchased feed. While producers welcomed Horizon’s Organic continuation of their MAP, pay price is still at least $4 below the average costs of living for organic dairy family farms. There will also be the loss of MILC payments in September unless Congress can move off gridlock and limited legislation and pass a more comprehensive Farm Bill. The consumption of organic fluid milk in the first half of 2012 is up by 6% over the first half of 2011, despite increased retail prices. The national weighted average advertised price of organic milk half gallons at the end of August is $3.91, and the price range is $4.99 to $2.69 per half gallon. The lowest price for organic fluid milk is for store branded milk, which is highly advertised and used as a loss-leader by retailers, but brand-name product is also being discounted to increase sales, with an unusually low price of $3 per half gallon recorded in August 2012. The important price-gap comparison between the weighted average advertised price for non-organic half gallons compared to organic is $1.65, up from $0.99 a month ago.  During 2012, the price spread has ranged from $0.78 to $2.46. For more details please go to:


How to Avoid Costly Mistakes
in Pasture Management

Three leading advisors and practitioners of pasture management collaborated on this article that spells out the mistakes that can be made in underutilizing this valuable asset. Sarah Flack, Dr. Cindy Daley, and Kathy Soder, give a taste of the presentation they will be giving at the NODPA Field Days by stepping back from the daily routine and asking producers to take a more global look at their pastures, their pasture management, and the management of the cows that graze them. This highly important asset, with its prescribed use for organic certification, will be an essential part of the planning and budgeting for 2013 - which may well be the difference between staying in business and bankruptcy for organic dairies. To learn more from these experts please go to:


Bringing Health and Sustainable Production to your Farm with Nutrient Dense Forages

Jack Lazor, organic dairy farmer and co-owner of Butterworks Farm, agrees that cows should be primarily consumers of excellent forages but he recognizes the necessity of feeding grain to “keep the flesh on their backs” during lactation. What if it was possible to grow forages that would contain enough energy to replace the need to feed grain? Jack shares his experiment with different production methods and soil amendments to improve the levels of sugar and fat in forages that would replace the need to feed grain. He will present his experience in person at the NODPA Field Days. To read more please go to:


Managing Beneficial Fatty Acids in Forage Crops to Enhance Nutritional Quality of Milk

There has been increasing interest by consumers to purchase livestock products that are high in beneficial fatty acids such as omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). They are necessary for human and livestock health; the body can’t produce them, therefore we must get them through food.

Numerous research studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis in humans. Omega-3 fatty acids are also highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory).

Maximizing omega-3 in milk and dairy products would benefit human health and nutrition. However, little is known about the effects of adding omega-3 PUFA to the diets of dairy cows.
Such a practice may improve their immunity. Understanding how omega-3 PUFA affect the immune functions of dairy cattle may lead to the development of strategies that will decrease the incidence of diseases and improve reproductive efficiency. For more information about these strategies, presented by Dr. Heather Darby, please come to the Field Days and go to:


Added August 6, 2012

The Latest Feed Prices

Compared to last month, national organic grain and feedstuffs were mixed, with light to moderate demand and light offerings. Corn averaged a slightly lower price, while beans averaged a higher price. Much of the corn movement this period was comprised of partial loads, as the supplies in most areas are very sparse. Drought concerns have halted new crop contracting for some farmers, who are reportedly waiting to see what their harvest will look like this fall before taking further steps to market new crop grain. Learn more >

The Latest Pay And Retail Prices for Organic Milk

Processors report that the spring flush there is over and a minimal amount of milk is being shipped to conventional sales. The heat is affecting dry matter yield from pasture and the NOP has granted a temporary variance for Wyoming for the level of dry matter required from grazing. The expectation is for a milk deficit this fall. The most recent edition of the bi-weekly Organic Dairy Market News reports that  organic non-fat milk powder is being imported into the northeast from the west and New Zealand to satisfy the needs of specialty manufacturing plants (yogurt for example) who have specific quality and price requirements. Learn more >

NOP Variance on pasture
in drought areas

The NOP responds to request for temporary variance only from certifying agents or state organic programs. If farmers think they have a need, then they need to work with their certifier who is the only one that can request it from NOP.   The procedure (and timeline) for certifiers/NOP to follow is posted at:

NOP 2606: Instruction for Processing Requests for Temporary Variance

Open letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack from organic dairy farmer Kevin Englebert

“I’m publically asking you to step in to override the influence that politicians are having on the NOP.  Do the right thing.  Order the NOP staff to ignore the directives from the corrupt politicians by sending qualified personnel out in the field to determine who still do not follow the law with regard to pasturing ruminant animals.  Come down hard on the certifiers and the operations who continue to ignore not just the intent of the law, but now the irrefutable language of the law.  Do not let politics interfere with the proper action by the NOP again.”

Lisa and Kevin Engelbert and their family were the first certified organic dairy producers in the United States.  In addition, Kevin filled one of the seats on the USDA's National Organic Standards Board designated for a farmer for five years.

“I would also ask that the NOP be ordered to fast-track the clarification to the ‘origin of livestock’ section of the National Rule.  Factory “organic” dairy operations continue to purchase replacement animals that are raised conventionally for the 1st year of their life, and then transitioned to organic – a clear violation of the law even though some certifiers allow the practice to continue.” 

For the full text of the letter please go to:

Dear Secretary Vilsack and UnderSecretary Merrigan.pdf

Managing For High Quality Forages,
Part 3: The Cow
By Gary Zimmer, President, Chairman of the Board,
Midwestern Bio-Ag

In the last two articles Gary looked at our soils to be sure that they are healthy and mineralized, and then we looked at the plants we are growing to be sure that they fit our management goals. Finally, in his third and final installment, he addresses what the cow needs from that pasture to produce quality milk and meat while staying healthy and in the herd. “Balancing the soils and the plants with the needs of the cow is what grazing management is all about.” For the full article please go to:


Storage of Homeopathic Remedies & Treatment of Common Maladies on the Dairy Farm
By Glenn Dupree, DVM

Homeopathic remedies are among the most cost effective and efficient treatment options available to the organic dairy. Their biggest drawback is how to store all those little bottles of pills and keep them organized. Glenn offers some suggestions about storage of the product plus educating the organic certifier, the organic inspector, the milk inspector and others about the nature of the product and how it should be stored despite the vague description on the labels. For the full article please go to:


Alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixtures for dairy grazing systems in North Carolina
By Eileen Balz, Steve Washburn, and Sue Ellen Johnson

This SARE supported research report compared and contrasted organic and non-organic production of alfalfa in a controlled production plots. The results showed non-organic management generally produced more actual yields of alfalfa than organic management. However, alfalfa grass mixtures yielded as much or more useable forage without the needing chemical control of weeds and insects. Interseeding prairie grass may be useful in suppressing weed production but may or may not boost total forage production. It was clear from the initial research that managing organic stands of alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixtures is a feasible option in eastern North Carolina. For the full report on their research please go to:


Real Supply Management - The history and politics of a successful program in Canada
By Mike Larsson

With non-organic dairy inching towards a very limited form of supply management within the dairy title of both the House and Senate Farm Bill, Mike Larson gives a background on how the system evolved in Canada. The continuously evolving Canadian system has withstood internal pressure and trade objections to provide a sustainable pay price for farmers. To quote from Mike’s article, “A pioneer of organic dairy farming was giving a summary of how his small organic milk company shipped milk under a buy-back arrangement to the State sanctioned milk monopoly, paying himself and his fellow dairymen $40/cwt plus a 20% premium for organic. At the time in New York and New England, the going price for organic milk at the farm gate was in the mid $20’s.” For the full article please go to:


Recent Odairy Discussions

ODairy is a FREE, vibrant listserv for organic dairy farmers, educators and industry representatives who actively participate with questions, advice, shared stories, and discussions of issues critical to the organic dairy industry. To sign up for the Odairy listserv, go to:


Want to know about the technique involved in sprouting barley and how much to feed?  Can organic dairies use 35% hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer and at what rate? Need to find out more about armyworms and how to get rid of them? For more highlights from last month’s Odairy discussions, please go to:



Added July 16, 2012

Organic Check-Off

FOOD Farmers, OFARM and other farmer and consumer groups continue to advocate that the proposal from the Organic Trade Association (OTA) on an organic check-off is not "Ready for Prime Time."

Our position is YES on a technical regulatory fix that allows organic farmers to withdraw their check-off dollars from supporting conventional agriculture ...

... and NO on regulation to support the path to establish an Organic Research and Promotion Program

An amendment to the House of Representative Farm Bill sponsored by Representative Welch from VT with language proposed by OTA was withdrawn during the discussion of the Farm Bill by the House Agriculture committee on Wednesday July 11, 2012. Ranking member Peterson promised that there would be 'some consideration' for the proposal within the final Farm Bill.

For more details on the proposal and its implications for producers, please go to:

To read the letter sent from FOOD Farmers, OFARM, environmental and consumer groups to leaders of the House of Representatives please go to:
House sign on letter 6 28 12.pdf

The Latest Pay And
Retail Prices for Organic Milk

The spring flush has ended and reports are that very few loads are going to non-organic sales. The heat is affecting dry matter yield from pasture and the NOP has granted a temporary variance for Wyoming for the level of dry matter required from grazing. The average pay price nationally is estimated at $30/cwt although that will vary by region. Learn more >

Feed Update

The current feed situation can be summed up best with a quote from Mary-Howell Martens of Lakeview Organic on the Odairy listserve, "between the armyworm and the intense drought here in New York, crops are really not looking good and pastures are terrible ……. Heads up folks – if you think the organic grain price is bad now, I'm really afraid you ain't seen nothing yet. And there isn't going to be much hay either."

For those producers who can find and afford to buy grain, corn prices are at an all-time high since data was collected in 2008, at $15.86/bushel in the Midwest. Soybeans are higher than 2008 levels at $28/bushel with soybean meal at $1,250/ton. With uncertainty on crop yield, how much acreage has returned to non-organic production and the effect of weather and insect damage on pasture, there is no ability to predict fall prices, even with some imports and 'green' protein available. For more details on Feed prices please go to:

Farm Bill update from NEFU

In the wee hours of July 12th, the House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the 2012 farm bill by a vote of 35 to 11.  Three of the four New England members of the House Agriculture Committee voted against the bill in opposition to its steep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the new name for Food Stamps. Learn more >

Growing Annuals for Grazing

Cheyenne Christianson has been planting several differSnippet_30656B1B6ent annuals on his farm for over a decade to extend the grazing season, fill in during warmer weather or drought, to give more options and variety, and as a good way to get a better mix of more palatable grasses and legumes. To read the full article, please go to:


Armyworms on the march
for the second time this year

The early warm weather brought an invasion of true armyworm (as opposed to Fall armyworm) to New York and Vermont, causing damage in young corn crops, pasture and hay fields. Armyworm will eat anything grassy in vast quantities, they feed at night so your pasture may look fine this afternoon and be virtually gone by morning. They will also eat alfalfa, and bean, cabbage, carrot, onions, pea, pepper, and radish leaves and other broad-leafed plants when the grasses are exhausted. They get their name from moving through a field in an "army-like" fashion, devouring plants as they go. For more information, click here.


Added June 4, 2012

NODPA Field Days 2012

NODPA's 12th Annual Field Days and Annual Meeting will be held September 27 & 28, 2012 at the centrally located Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center in Brattleboro, VT. This year's program, Farming Smarter: A Nutrient and Energy Dense Agenda to Help Farmers Become More Self-Reliant, is a direct response to this year of grain shortages, high feed prices, no profit margins and dramatic weather patterns. NODPA will bring together a rich array of national and regional leaders to share their knowledge and ideas about how farmers can become more self-reliant by growing more of their own feed in healthy, rich soil through workshops, panel discussions, a local farm tour and plenty of networking time. And throughout the past twelve years, we've learned that one of the most important reasons farmers and their families travel to Field Days is to get to see one another; learn about new resources; network; share ideas and the latest gossip; and enjoy fresh, local food, too.

For complete details on the program and speakers:

For complete information on sponsoring please go to:

Please click here for a sponsorship registration form.

Feed and pay price update

With input prices rising and processors re-emphasizing that pay price will not increase, it is increasingly important for producers to understand the retail market place, the relationship between price and retail sales, the price gap between organic and non-organic dairy products, and fluctuations in sales of fluid product. Do sales really drop when retail price increases or do consumers move to store brand product mostly supplied by the two major processors? The work of the organic team at the USDA Market News led nationally by Eric Graf and in the East supported by Richard Whipp is essential to producers as they continue to increase the collection and reporting of sales and retail price for organic fluid sales plus monitoring of national sale of fluid product. The most recent edition of the bi-weekly Organic Dairy Market News highlights the import of organic non-fat milk powder into the Northeast from the West and New Zealand to satisfy the needs of specialty manufacturing plants (yogurt for example) who have specific quality and price requirements. The full report can be found at:

On March 23, 2012 USDA, AMS, Dairy Market News released the first National Dairy Retail Report, a biweekly report containing non-organic and organic dairy product retail pricing information. The report lists data for non-organic and organic dairy products, divided into four main sections: (1) Narrative and graphs; (2) National tables; (3) Regional tables; and (4) a breakdown between national and store branded products plus summarized data for advertised dairy products. The National Dairy Retail Report is able to provide analysis for example on the price gap between organic and non-organic plus comparisons between store brand and branded product, 'Organic milk's national weighted average advertised price for half gallons, $3.71, is up 33 cents from last period. This results in an organic-conventional half-gallon milk advertised price spread of $1.75, up from $1.02 two weeks ago.' For more details please see the full report at:

NODPA summarizes the information from USDA AMS and other sources in its regular articles on feed prices, and pay and retail price update.

Fly Control and Pink Eye

In this timely article Jerry Brunetti highlights the 'one potential unsavory outcome of fly persistence, namely pink eye, scientifically called keratoconjunctivitis. Pink Eye is an infectious bacterial disease caused by the bacterium Moraxella bovis, which attacks the cornea, or the transparent layer of the eye which allows light in.' Jerry examines the problem in detail plus provides short and long term solutions involving natural treatments plus building immunity by improving the natural balance of trace elements in the soil. To read more of Jerry's wisdom please go to:


Managing For High Quality Forages,
Part 2: The Plant

In his first article on grazing dairy cows, Gary Zimmer emphasized that the soil is where it starts but also where there are many limits on production. As soils change, so do plants. This second article, on the plants, will address how to plant pastures, which plants to grow, and how to manage them. So what makes an ideal pasture? For Gary's answer please go to:


Added May 8, 2012

NODPA Field Days

Cheyenne is the key-note speaker at the 12th NODPA Fields Days on September 27 and 28, 2012 in Brattleboro, VT. In a year of grain shortages, high feed prices and dramatic weather patterns, the meeting’s theme is: ‘A nutrient and energy dense agenda to help farmers be more self-reliant by growing more of their own feed in healthy, rich soil’. For more information, or if you have questions about sponsoring or exhibiting at the NODPA Field Days, contact NODPA Field Days Coordinator Nora Owens anytime at:  and 413-772-0444 or go to:

OTA’s proposed Organic
Check–Off program ...

... is it a technical correction to allow all organic products an exemption from paying into a commodity program enough or do we need a Federal Commodity program under USDA administration and rules? Learn more >

Commentary: Low milk prices driving producers to the ground

Organic dairy cows losing production, condition, or leaving the farm for beef, says Ralph Caldwell, ME Organic Dairy farmer

“Horizon Organic threw us a bone last month that will take effect this month (March), with the addition of a couple dollars per hundredweight.” “The real reason they are running out (of organic milk) is because the milk companies have paid less than the cost of production for several years and the Northeast is getting over a million pounds of milk per month less month after month, even though the dairy processors are signing up new farmers all the time.” Read more of longtime organic dairy farmer Ralph Caldwell’s commentary on the state of organic dairy farming:

Open Letter to Governor Cuomo
About Fracking

As the federal government looks at the issue nationally and recommends that drilling companies have to report what chemicals they use after the fact rather than seek permission before polluting the environment, Kathie Arnold looks at the issue of fracking locally in New York. “There are far too many unanswered questions and a lack of in-depth study of what the health effects will be of widespread shale gas drilling to not invoke the precautionary principle at this point in time. We don’t really know, although there are many cases and mounting evidence from areas where shale gas extraction is in full swing that raise big red flags. First, we must do no harm. That can’t happen by drilling first and researching later.” Read more of Kathie Arnold’s open letter to New York Governor Cuomo:

Filler Forage: Extending the
Grazing Season

Perennial pasture production is an integral part of dairy and livestock grazing operations. Understanding the growth patterns of perennials, helps match forage production needs with cows’ requirements. Joshua Baker, the Assistant Marketing Manager of Kings AgriSeeds, Inc. lays out ways to extend the grazing season and various options to increase the productivity and yield from annual forage crops. For a highly informative and well-illustrated article please go to:

No light at the end of the tunnel
on feed costs and pay-price

Horizon Organic announced at the end of April that their MAP will be maintained at $3 or $3.50 /cwt (depending on geographic location) until the end of September 2012. Organic Valley pay price continues to be the highest of the national brands but some of the regional processors are currently paying more. The costs of  inputs have remained high, and farmers are struggling to break even. Producers across the country are still requesting another $3 per cwt to reach a breakeven point for 2012 based on sound economic analysis from independent sources using data from farmers in all area of the US. For more information please click here:

The costs of feed continue to remain high with soy starting to climb rapidly. Some of the feed dealers are importing corn and soy or mixing pelleted feed with “green protein” (alfalfa) to lower costs. For more information ple3ase click here:

ADDED April 2, 2012

Feed Price Update

Organic dairy farmers are still suffering with ever higher corn and soybean prices and, at least in the northeast, there is so sign of any useful pasture. Future prices for corn and soybeans hold little hope for a drop in price. For more details please click here.

The Benefits Of Using Fish and Seaweed Products To Feed Your Forage Crops
Why does Fish work so well as a Fertilizer? What are the benefits of cold-processed hydrolyzed fish vs. a fish emulsion? What can farmers expect when they use hydrolyzed fish on their hay and pasture? Why does Seaweed work so well on fields and pastures? What is the cost? These are all timely questions as you plan out your year’s program or perhaps experiment with different inputs. For a concise analysis please click here.

Need increased assistance with Nutrient Management Implementation?

If you are in Vermont you can get help from Kirsten Workman who comes to Vermont from Washington State. During her time in Washington, Kirsten facilitated farmer participation in watershed cleanup plans, started the very successful Poultry Processing Equipment Lending Program, revitalized a local farmers market, and advocated for farmers across the region. She also taught classes for farmers on a wide array of topics including pasture management, composting, poultry processing, livestock management practices, whole farm planning and business planning for agricultural entrepreneurs. Find out about the many opportunities to learn good nutrient management by clicking here.

Goals and Strategies for a vaccination program for Organic Dairy

As the topic of vaccines gets raised yet again by the NOSB, this article from Guy Jodarski, illustrates the importance of a good vaccination program and the challenges with choosing the right vaccines. Hopefully the NOSB will agree to leave the situation as it is with vaccines at their next meeting and encourage more uniformity amongst certifiers with what can and cannot be used. To read his articles please click here.

Fly Management on Your Organic Dairy
Thursday, April 19, 2012, 10 am to 2 pm, The Essex Resort, Essex, Vermont

Learn from nationally known entomologists who will share their research and experience on fly control management strategies for your organic dairy farm. A panel discussion will follow the speakers’ presentations. For more information please go to:  

Odairy discussions – don’t like to tweet
but want to stay up to date?

Odairy is the resource that allows organic dairy farmers and many, many others to network with each other – or just gossip!

Last month, discussions continued on problems farmers were experiencing associated with the lack of profitability in 2011. Discouraged farmers shared their frustration as they talked of getting jobs in town, selling out, and the recent difficulty of getting financing from lenders. A farmer asked about cost and availability of kelp. Another producer responded by saying that all kelp is not created equal.

For Liz Bawden's summary of Odairy happening in the last few months please go to:

ADDED March 9, 2012

Producing Your Own OP Corn Seed:
Homegrown Strategies for Dealing with the Onslaught of GMO Corn

Jack Lazor is the perennial optimist and is able to draw on his long years of experience to lay out some very clear advice for those wanting to grow their own corn seed. He does admit that “Trans genes are everywhere” and that he has become disillusioned over the last five years about the lack of choice that farmers have in purchasing even 95 day untreated corn seed. While admitting that there is a great deal of windblown contamination and very good reasons for becoming depressed, his article steers us back into the positivity of solving the problem with our own farming skills. For a very good article on saving your own corn seed, please go to:


Quality Forages Need Quality Soils

Gary Zimmer’s article starts with this home truth: “So you want farming to be easy, you want to have fun, and you want to make money. As an organic grazier with those goals, you have to manage for high quality forages.” This first article of a series of three concentrates on the need for healthy soils and taps into Gary’s vast knowledge and experience. For more excellent reading on building soil quality, please go to:


‘Got Carbon’ NEFU Carbon Credit Program

Do your farming practices reduce your carbon footprint or sequester carbon? If they do, the New England Farmers Union’s Buy Local Carbon Project wants to identify those practices and develop the methodologies so that carbon credits generated by these practices can be sold in the marketplace. The goal is to create a viable carbon market for New England farmers who participate in conservation practices that benefit the environment and reduce green- house gas emissions. For more information please go to:


Feed price update

Trading in national organic grain and feedstuffs are mixed, with very good demand reported for alternative feed grade grains and moderate demand for all other grains. Offerings of grain were moderate for all types, with the exception of domestic soybeans, for which offerings were light. Click here to learn more about current feed and grain prices.

Payprice update

From December 2010 to December 2011, the average retail price of organic milk increased by 14 cents per ½ gallon, sales increased by 14.3% over 2010 but producers received only an average of $1.25/cwt (6 cents per ½ gallon) of the total retail increase of $3.26/cwt (14 cents/ ½ gallon) for ¼ of the year. Click here for more details on pay and retail price updates.

NOP/NOSB/Organic News

It’s a very active time in organics with the European Equivalency agreement beginning June 1, 2012, which will eliminate a double set of fees, inspections, and paperwork but increase the level of oversight needed. This agreement eliminates significant barriers, and is expected to have a significant impact on the trade of organic products – and many are likely to be finished foods rather than agricultural products.  In February the NOP published draft Guidance on Handling Bulk, Unpackaged Organic Products in response to the USDA Office of Inspector General report on organic dairy. This draft guidance appears to increase the work of certifiers (and their cost) while restricting the choice of producers over who they can use to transport product and livestock. The next meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is on May 21-24, 2012 at Hotel Albuquerque, NW Albuquerque, New Mexico. The agenda has not been released yet, but the GMO issue will definitely be on the minds of those commenting, especially with the new GMO committee making its first report. The phase II of OTA’s campaign for an Organic Research and Promotion Program or Organic Check off program was released in January with plenty of questions from producers.

To read more on all of these activities please click here.

Added February, 2012

There's Confusion On
The Supermarket Dairy Shelves

Store-brand organic milk is now a loss leader for retailers to draw customers into their stores. This reality benefits all organic manufacturers and consumers on the backs of organic dairy farm families. Our petition signed by over 1,000 folks on line and in-person (click here to download a pdf of the petition) shows that consumers are willing to pay more if the money goes to farmers. Recent increases in retail prices don't appear to have slowed sales. In the words of George Wright, NY farmer and NODPA Treasurer, "Processors and retailers need to examine whether they need to earn as much or more than farmers from a ½ gallon of organic milk. Consumers need to ask why farmers don't get their fair share of the retail dollar."

If you believe in a fair share of the retail dollar for farmers please sign our petition, get your friends to sign it, have the organizations you support promote the petition. Click on the link below to go to the petition:

Deep Pack Barns for Cow Comfort
and Manure Management

A deep pack barn system generally consists of a foundation of concrete or hard clay with a layer of gravel and then a bedding pack of straw, hay, sawdust or well-chipped wood shavings. Manure and urine mix into the bedding that remains in place for several months and is generally cleaned out once a year.

A deep pack system is different from a composting pack that is aerated in the barn daily by tiller or turning. As with any type of housing structure, adequate bedding and good milking hygiene help manage the pathogens naturally found in a bedded pack system. For the pros and cons of this system please click here.

Dry Cows Do Have Memories

Well they do have a 'biological memory' which can be stimulated by good management practices. The late term pregnancy of a dry cow is a complex biological process that is sensitive and vulnerable to negative challenges. If the challenge is severe enough during the dry period, the dry cow may not be able to biologically recover adequately for a healthy birthing process and lactation performance may be compromised. It is always good for a farmer's bottom-line if the dry cows approach freshening with positive memories. To learn more about the influence of a cow's memory, please click here.

Update from UNH
on their Multi-State project

"As more and more farmers adopt organic agriculture practices, they need the best science available to operate profitable and successful organic farms," says Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of USDA. The University of New Hampshire takes this charge seriously with their project to assist organic dairy producers to meet new and emerging markets. The project, which was funded through NIFA's Organic Research and Extension Initiative, addresses needs expressed by organic dairy farmers in a series of focus group interviews funded by two planning grants. To learn more please click here.

New England Farmers Are the 99%

Though we didn't pitch a tent in any city park, we know that agriculture in New England is not part of the 1%. The 1% are the agribusiness conglomerates. They don't till our rocky soils or haul trainloads of grain, sugar, cotton or rice across our mountains. They don't have small, organic dairy herds that graze our rocky slopes. They are the 1% who benefits most from government programs. They are the 1% with the most money for lobbyists and advertising. They are the 1% that says, "Agriculture is big business. We have to feed the world." How can we occupy our seat at this national table? To find the answer, click here.

Summary of Odairy Discussions:
"Gee, it's not just me."

NODPA's list serve was quieter than usual until the issue of pay price and feed costs hit the airwaves. One of the best aspects of this list serve is that it connects farmers to each other and, in times of crises, reassures them that they are not alone and that the predicaments they are experiencing are being shared by others. Sharing the increased cost of feed and other costs that are outside the control of organic dairy producers provides some comfort to farmers that it wasn't because of their poor management that they were losing money on their operations. To read more, click here.

sProfile of New NOSB Member: Jean Richardson

In December 2011, five new members were named to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the 15 member advisory board that helps set standards for the National Organic Program. Jean Richardson is one of the newly appointed members and will assume the consumer/public interest slot. It is a five-year term, set to begin this January. Having a board member from Vermont is exciting news for producers in the Northeast. Jean has hands-on and practical understanding of organic agriculture; conducts organic inspections of both farm and food processing operations; is a Professor Emerita at the University of Vermont (UVM); is a Founding Director and President of the New England Environmental Policy Center (NEEPC); and Jean's appointment to the NAFTA Commission on Environmental Cooperation by President Clinton will gave her valuable experience listening to diverse perspectives, while remaining independent and immune to bullying. For more on Jean please click here.


Organic Dairy Family Farmers need a fair share of the retail dollar, they require at least a 40¢ a gallon increase in their milk price to stay in business

A remarkable turn-around in demand for organic dairy products in 2011 has resulted in shortages on supermarket shelves, but organic dairy family farmers find themselves not being able to increase production because they can't pay their bill ... To view the full press release and learn more, click here. We've also started a petition, and over 1000 have already signed on. For details on the petition, click here. To sign on now click the link in the green column at the right, just below the payprice info.

Fracking: What are your rights as a farmer?

New York State farmers or land owners who have signed gas leases but want to ensure their termination at the expiration date, must go through a step by step process as defined by NYS law. Click here for a packet of information that has been developed by a knowledgeable attorney, with instructions and template letters, both for expiring leases and to respond to force majeure letters (when the company arbitrarily extends the lease, with no rental payment, if some unforeseen event beyond the control of that company happens) from gas companies trying to extend the term of the lease.

From City to the Farm: A Financial Downfall? "It just doesn't add up."

"In 1995 when we purchased a farm in central Minnesota, it was the Ideal place to raise children. We started with farrow to finish hogs, a few milk cows, and chickens on the farm. Refusing to support large corporations by using chemicals, GMO grains, and wanting to be self-supporting and responsible to the land of which we were stewards, we began transitioning the farm to organic production. We became certified organic in 2000 and focused our attention on becoming a certified organic dairy farm. Like everyone else, to make ends meet I also worked off the farm in home construction. From 2000 until now it takes twice as many milking cows to cover the farm expenses. The cost changes in production needed to sustain a farm from 2000 to today has nearly doubled with little to no increase in milk price." What is going on? Read more >

eOrganic Dairy: A Year in Review and What's on Tap for 2012

Over the past a couple of years, you may have heard about eOrganic. It’s an online community of more than 700 ag service providers and farmers who are providing science, experience, and regulation-based certified organic information on the web at The eOrganic Dairy Team is led by Drs. Heather Darby (University of Vermont Extension) and Cindy Daley (California State University—Chico). More than 60 farmers, agronomists, veterinarians, grazing and certification specialists, animal scientists, and other professionals are working together to publish peer-reviewed articles, videos, and webinars on a range of organic dairy topics. To learn more from Debra Heleba, eOrganic Dairy Team Coordinator, please go to:

Winter Conference Highlights

Conference season is upon us; a time to reflect on 2011, plan for 2012 and beyond, and gather with like-minded people. It is a time to read, learn, share, teach, connect with friends and make new acquaintances. If you visit our Calendar page, you will see that there are many, many conferences and workshops coming up. To find out more about winter conference highlights taking place in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Vermont in greater detail, click here.

Changing of Officers and Board Members at NODPA

NODPA is an organic dairy farm family member organization that is incorporated as a not-for –profit 501 (c) 5 organization. As a membership organization, NODPA By-Laws prescribe that NODPA Board and Officers are elected by their farmer peers. NODPA holds elections annually for a third of its Board members and for the four Officers of the organization. This year the elections were held on December 19th 2011 by conference call. For more information on the elections and the farmer governing body of NODPA, click here.


Organic Milk in short supply.
Bonanza for Farmers?

When a product is in short supply, the retail price increases and the price to the supplier increases to encourage greater production. These three basic economic facts may be true for most commodities, especially when there is a short supply and increased demand at the same time but organic dairy is an exception to that rule. For the last six months there have been predictions of shortage in the supply of organic milk as costs of inputs have risen dramatically and consumer demand continues to increases at 8-10% year over year. This shortage in the dairy case is accompanied by the highest ever number of organic dairy farmers choosing early retirement or returning to conventional production as profitability for organic dairy is at its lowest since 2006.

The answer to the problem of shortage in supply was simply stated by former NODPA Board president and Organic Valley producer Steve Morrison in the November issue of NODPA News “If processors work with the interests of their farmers at heart, this necessary adjustment [increase in pay price] can be accomplished quickly and safely.” Steve was suggesting an increase in base pay price of $4/cwt ($0.17per ½gallon) over the next 12 months. The average ½ gallon price for organic milk as reported by the Federal Milk Marketing Order, FMMO, is only $3.77, with Minneapolis MN being the highest at $4.57 and the lowest is Denver Colorado at $3.02 per ½ gallon.

With such a wide price spread and an average retail price at the same level as 2008, passing on an increase to consumers to ensure that farmers have a sustainable living wage should be a win-win for everyone. Obviously it is not that simple as we have many hands that touch the product from farm to table but how does this situation speak to the future of organic dairying? When looking at the priorities for the next year for organic dairy farmers, as the Organic Valley/CROPP board will be doing in the next few weeks, perhaps it would be good to envision how a future pay price will affect the type of operations that we are encouraging. Do we want at least 2/3rds of organic dairy farmers struggling to survive or 2/3rds of farmers thriving and reinvesting in their land? Do we want to mirror the conventional dairy industry where the economies of scale dominate with larger herds and the disappearance of smaller operations from our communities? For more analysis and information go to: 

Organic Milk Market Update >
Organic Pay Price Update >

NOSB – Two firsts in Georgia

The NOSB meeting took place for the first time in Georgia and for the first time the recording was available within a few days. Those that are interested can see it at

Of interest to organic dairy, the meeting approved the continued use of the non-synthetic, vegetarian plant-based source of DHA Omega-3 that Horizon/White Wave use in their products which has contributed to increase sales of Horizon product. In his report to the NOSB Miles McEvoy responded to the concerns that NODPA has raised with the National Organic Program about the certifiers and inspectors lack of consistency in interpreting organic regulations and the increased regulatory burden that farmers now face. He said that it would be a priority in the NOP auditing of certifiers to ensure that there is consistency in interpretation of regulation and that they should require adequate not excessive paperwork from farmers. He also mentioned that the Origin of Livestock Proposed Rule would be published in the Spring of 2012, not a moment too soon. For a further report please download the NOP's December 2011 newsletter.

New NOSB Members

The NOSB also announced the next set of NOSB members who are all very competent and knowledgeable and will serve the industry very well. We welcome their willingness to serve our community. One question that McEvoy raised at the NOSB meeting in Georgia was the need to have every stakeholder at the table that will actively raise issue of concern to their sector. NODPA continually advocates for a producer representative that has experienced both the joys and tribulations of organic production agriculture where the perfect is seldom achieved. A producer who has had to balance the economic necessities of a family farm with the unpredictable weather and marketplace, understands the practicality of balancing integrity with common sense. If you haven’t experienced those long days and sleepless nights, you cannot bring the realities or organic farming to the NOSB table. For more information on the new members:

Still time to complete weed survey

The 2011 Northeastern Weed Survey seeks to determine the most troublesome, difficult-to-control weeds in non-irrigated grain crops.  It is designed to assess differences in weed species composition in organic and conventional grain or silage corn, soybeans and wheat as impacted by tillage system and local climate.

This survey is targeted towards Extensionists, CCAs and industry professionals. The 5-question survey is simple and can be completed in 5-7 minutes.  

If you are an Extensionist, CCA, researcher, technical or outreach educator, or other ag professional and you'd like to take the survey, the Cornell University programs involved in the project encourage you to become a participant by emailing Elizabeth Buck at    

The online survey will remain open until December 15, 2011. To date, responses for organic systems have been limited. They encourage you to participate in the survey so that they can collect a more robust and reliable data set, which translate into stronger research conclusions for you and your growers.

New England Farmers Union Meeting
on Friday December 9th

Farmers and consumers speaking together are heard, planning together are seen, and advocating together are successful. The only way to amplify the importance of New England agriculture is to work together. Our local voices are being heard and understood at the national level. Join us on December 9 from 1 to 8:00 p.m. as we celebrate accomplishments and plan our next steps. The New England Farmers Union Annual Meeting, December 9 from 1 to 8:00 p.m., is a time to learn about the state of New England's agricultural community and an opportunity to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones. Business Meeting, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dinner, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Evening Program, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a special presentation by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine).  For more information go to:

Food Farmer Resolutions
Regarding The 2012 Farm Bill

At their respective annual meetings in November, and through national tele-conferencing, the Federation Of Organic Dairy Farmers (Food Farmers) agreed on a number of resolutions as key points in any 2012/2013 discussions of the Farm Bill. Learn more >

Supplementation of Organic Dairy Cows; Getting Started

Grass based dairies often struggle with the question of what to supplement their cattle with. How does one know what dairy cattle on grass really need? Am I buying too much? Not enough? Is it “balanced?” What about the “missing factors”, etc? Read Jerry Brunetti’s article.

USDA Supports Research and Marketing of Organic Agriculture in 18 States

The grants, totaling $19 million in all, are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through two unique programs: the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and the Organic Transitions Program (ORG). To learn more, click here.

Meat Framers are Getting Butchered

‘Buy 1, Get 2 FREE,’ shouted this week’s flyer from the Big Y World Class Market, a Massachusetts-owned grocery store chain. One-pound packages of ground beef are on sale, as are whole chickens, boneless rump roasts and pork tenderloin. Buy one, get two free is a good deal, and many shoppers will fill their carts with ground beef and other meat products. But you have to wonder if the farmer is making any money on this.”
Read more >

Organic Commodity Futures Trading
is a Step Backwards

“Yes, there is more that we must do if we are to have the right model for pricing organic farm products. The road to that important goal is one of farmers resolving to unite and stand together for economic justice in the market place, not one of turning our future over to the whims of global speculators.” Oren Holle charts the way forward in this commentary piece.
Learn more >


No silver bullets left

Its official – organic dairy is no longer the silver bullet that the early pioneers benefited from ... but is it still part of the ammunition of opportunities that will sustain rural communities and family farms? Read more about the latest results from the University of Vermont’s ongoing study of the economics of organic dairy farming in the state.

Farm Bill to be decided in smoke filled rooms by Debt commission?

Whether or not the Super Committee in Congress will reach agreement that can make it through to legislation, major portions of the 2012 Farm Bill have been decided by the chairs of the two committees without any transparency or public input from stakeholders. Even if, as seems reasonably likely, the Super Committee fails, the consensus is that the House and Senate Agriculture committees will use the work already completed as the basis for the next Farm Bill.

Nevertheless, within the Dairy Security Act, which is presumed to be the basis of the Dairy title in the Farm Bill, there is the opportunity for organic dairy to take the initiative and push for programs that relate to organic production costs and market conditions. Read more >

Feed Price updates

The most recent data and conclusions from USDA, AMS, Livestock & Grain Market News are no different from anecdotal reports from producers across the country. Feed and forage prices remain high and availability is an increasing problem.  With the harvest under way, reports on the weight and quality of corn and soybeans vary from state to state, although yields appear to be below average. The factor causing concern is not only the projected price for corn delivered in February, (12.50 per bushel plus transport ($400+/ ton)) but the availability for those that have limited storage capacity or a lack of credit to purchase feed now. Learn more >

2011 NODPA
Field Day report

One of the best parts of coming to the NODPA Field Days each year is to reunite with old friends - producers and resource individuals alike - who come back year after year. They are able to share some stories from the farm, talk about their children (and grandkids for many), and enjoy good food and lots of laughs. Every year people come interested in learning something new; giving NODPA constructive feedback; celebrating NODPA’s successes; acknowledging the exceptional work of a few; and ready to hunker down and work harder in areas where progress is slow to nonexistent. Learn what happened and see the photos >


Take-way from the NODPA 2011 Field Days
High cost of Feed and Inputs + Excessive Paperwork + a 2008 pay-price = disillusion with organic and inability to pay bills. MORE >

There will be a more detailed description of the Field Days highlights in the next NODPA newsletter. To view a slideshow of photos from the Field Days, please click here.

Feed Price Updates

Corn prices are double 2010 levels, matching the highs of 2008. Supply is very tight; some producers are reporting they can’t find any corn, even at $15-16 per bushel. The futures market for conventional corn is fluctuating with every rumor and projection on harvest and the USDA reports that more corn is now being used for Ethanol than for human and livestock feed.
Learn MORE >

Recent Discussions On ODairy
Robust and practical discussions about the benefits of boron supplements in the soil; Normande genetics; treatments for pinkeye; and management of breeding bulls. Learn more >

The Latest e-Organic Dairy Resources
Videos, webinars and more ... Learn more >

SARE Comprehensive Grazing Course
Through a SARE-funded project, partners in multiple states have joined together to deliver a training course focused on comprehensive, holistic grazing planning.
Learn more >

Consider Advertising
in the next NODPA Newsletter

Deadline for the November NODPA News is October 19, 2011. To learn more about advertising and classified submissions, click here


dIrene and post Irene flooding – some organizations that are helping

We pulled together an article in the September NODPA News giving our readers information on how they can help their fellow producers who were hard hit by Tropical Storm Irene. Since that article was published, there has been some serious flooding in New York and Pennsylvania, which has caused extensive damage to Kevin and Lisa Engelbert's farm in Nichols, NY, along with others. Our thoughts go out to all those affected by these forces of nature. The article, Hurricane Irene – ‘After the Storm: How can you help’ highlights a number of organizations that are raising money to assist our farmers in need. Learn more >

NODPA’s 2011 Field Days on September 29
and 30 at Cooperstown, New York

Tired of the rain, the floods, the high price of corn, endless paperwork, and processors that never listen? Then come to NODPA’s Field Days to be re-invigorated by excellent discussion, great food,  a great farm tour and wonderful company where a problem shared can be a problem solved.

The NODPA Field Days will be held at the Cooperstown Beaver Valley Cabins and Campsites, 138 Towers Road, Milford, NY 13807. Learn more & register.

Private label milk- a scourge or a necessity

“While some laud private labels for making organics more accessible and increasing the overall appetite for natural foods, others criticize the grocery giants for profiting from the demand created by trailblazing organic brands. Either way, one thing is certain – if small organic producers are to flourish in this market, they have a fight ahead of them.”(Sara Stroud, The Organic Challenge, Sustainable Industries).
“Private Label is a growing business not without its controversies, challenges and benefits.  As a partnership strategy, it has evolved greatly since its first appearance as “retailer controlled” brands.  With Organic in particular, private label allows companies to partner with strategic retail customers, reach additional markets in times of oversupply and make organics more accessible.” Eric Newman, Vice President of Sales, Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative. Read more about Eric’s view of Private Label Milk.
sNatural Gas Exploration and its Impact on Organic Agriculture 

Drilling a vertical well into a shale formation only draws the gas from the immediate proximity of the well, so though we have known of this natural gas deposit for years and years, getting to it has been a challenge – that is, until the introduction of a process known today as Hydraulic Fracturing or ‘Fracking’. Read more >

Organic community advocates or circular firing squad – why we need them and who benefits?

When you receive an action alert by email, a mailing with a request for response, or an email/text/facebook/twitter /US mail asking for money to “Protect the Integrity of Organics,” “Save the Sky from Falling,” “Push Back the Encroachment of Corporate America in Organics,” what is your response? Perhaps they will all end up in the recycling bin with a muttered comment of, “haven’t these ******* folks got better things to do?” or “they are only looking to get a salary twice my farming income,” or “organics doesn’t need this.” Read more and get to know your advocacy groups.

Monitoring and Planning Your Forage Grazing System

Want to make more money from grazing while increasing your plant diversity and satisfying those pesky access to pasture regulations? Learn how to “design your grass-based dairy operation to mimic nature’s ecology and rebuild the soil’s ecological capital” by reading this article by Troy Bishopp and coming to NODPA Field Days. Learn more >


Featured Farm: Steve Morrison's Clovercrest Farm, Charleston, ME

This July our featured farm is Clovercrest Farm, Charleston, Maine. Clovercrest Farm is a blend of 125 acres of pasture and 125 acres of woodland surrounding the barn with 65 milking cows. Steve Morrison currently farms with his partner Sonja Hyeck-Merlin, his cousin Ross Ludders and his parents, Joan and Bob Morrison, as well as several seasonal and part time employees. To learn more about the operation, click here.

Diversity, A Grazier's Best Friend, Part II

Can understanding and manipulating bidoversity help improve pasture and farm incomes, or even the ecological well-being or the entire landscape? Learn more about the value of plant species diversity by clicking here. To read the first article in the series (Can Forage Mixtures Improve Productivity of Grazing Dairy Cows, Part I), click here.

Beneficial impacts of Terroir on Your Food

In the European food vernacular, there is a term called 'Terrior', essentially an agricultural description pertaining to the  bouquet of flavors in foods that originate from the soil .... Read more by clicking here >

Recent ODairy Discussions

Odairy listserv is always opinionated, informative, repetitive, friendly, insightful, and occasionally controversial. It’s free as a service from NODPA and if you aren’t signed up yet Liz Bawden, as always, has done an excellent job of cataloging the topics covered on Odairy for May and June. Read her latest by clicking here.

eOrganic Webinar Series

eOrganic is an online community of more than 600 farmers and ag service providers who are providing science, experience and regulation, based on a range of certified organic information on the web. One of the resources that eOrganic Dairy has been creating webinars on various  organic dairy topics that can be watched at any time; and it is FREE. Click here to learn more about the current webinars that are available for viewing.

The Latest Feed Prices

15 dollar/bushel corn and none available? What is the fall going to bring as the commodity price starts to hit the price per ton for pelleted feed? What effect will the weather have on yields, harvesting and availability and what will quality of the product be for livestock feed? Our regular update using USDA AMS data which reflects the commodity market rather than individual contracts is available by clicking here >

ADDED JULY 18, 2011

kevin brussellIn memory of Kevin Brussell

To lose someone of Kevin’s skill, knowledge, humanity and just plain good sense is painful to us all. We offer our deep condolences to Juli and his family. His long time colleague, friend and former ‘boss’ Chuck Schwab, reflects on Kevin’s contribution to our community, which has been so cruelly cut short.


Feed and Pay Price Update

feed pricesWith a healthy demand for product, a rising retail price but a low price gap between organic and non-organic, and a high conventional price to minimize the expense of balancing surplus milk, the outlook for organic dairy processors and consumers appears to be very healthy. For more information on payprice, click here.

Corn prices are rising to 2008 levels and supply is increasingly tight as the non-organic price competes directly with organic. For more details click here.

Trends in Organic Dairy

The trends in non-organic dairy are reasonably easy to predict and historically have followed a 2-3 year curve with significant high and lows in net income, with the only question being what level of extremes it would reach. For insight into the past that can inform our future, click here.

GMO Meeting in Boulder June 2011

On June 28th and 29th a cross-section of the organic and sustainable agriculture community, composed of farmers, consumers, industry and NGO leaders, met in Boulder and confirmed that much more work is urgently needed to educate the public about the multiple benefits of organic and sustainable agriculture. The consensus of the meeting was that, if given a clear choice, a large part of the U.S. and world population would choose to not consume GMOs, or food produced through their use. For a more detailed analysis of the event, click here.

flyManaging Horn, Face, And Stable Flies

This is the time of year when livestock can be tormented by fly attacks while they are out on pasture especially horn, face, stable, horse and deer flies. Each has distinctive habits, life histories, and management options. For an article that is an excerpt from the publication ‘2011 Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Guide for Organic Dairies” written by the New York State Department of Ag and Markets, click here.


Northeast Animal-Power Field Days And NOFA Summer Conference

This year the Northeast Animal-Power Field Days (NEAPFD) will partner with the NOFA Summer Conference, August 12-14, 2011, at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. Most animal power workshops will take place at the UMass Deerfield campus (transportation provided for workshop participants). For a full description of draft animal power workshops, click here. Draft Animal Power Network (DAPNet) is the member organization responsible for NEAPFD. Members of DAPNet can take advantage of NOFA Summer Conference registration discounts. For more information on DAPNet membership, click here.

The NOFA Summer Conference will be offering 225+ workshops on organic farming, gardening and land care, draft animals in farming and forestry, homesteading, sustainability, nutrition, food politics, activism, and much, much more. For more details about the conference, click here.

Added June 7, 2011

Make Plans for NODPA's 11th Annual Field Days, September 29 & 30

NODPA’s 11th Annual Field Days and Annual meeting will be held at the Cooperstown Beaver Valley Cabins and Campsites, Milford, New York  on September 29 & 30, 2011. This two day event will highlight the internal and external opportunities and challenges for producers as demand for organic dairy products is on the rise and supply remains static. Click here to learn more about the event, view the detailed two-day schedule, and discover more about sponsorship and tradeshow opportunities.

Can Forage Mixtures Improve Productivity
of Grazing Dairy Cows? Part 1

Pasture management traditionally focused on balancing the quantity and quality of forages for livestock production. This has often resulted in planting a single forage species or simple grass-legume mixtures. However, native grasses contain many species of grasslands, nitrogen-fixing legumes and deep-rooted flowering plants (forbs). Can we learn anything from diverse native grasslands that can be applied to managed pasture? MORE >

wwWill you invest management time in your roots?

Bill Emmons from Cloudland Farm in Woodstock, Vermont made a good point about the connotation of resting pastures. "The reason farmers question rest is they seem to equate it with non-working, perhaps even laziness, and not being very efficient with a farm's resource. We need to call it something more positive -- say an investment in your grassland bank. That just sounds more business-like." MORE >

Meeting the Pasture Rule Requirements:
Record-keeping resources for the grazing season. MORE >

Recent Discussions On ODairy
Robust and practical discussions about winter teat dips; somatic cell counts; and planting brassicas and other annuals for grazing. MORE >

Added In May, 2011

How's and the Why's of the Pasture Rule

With advice on the essential requirements of meeting the new regulations concerning access to pasture, Pennsylvania producer Dave Johnson is able to share his own experience on crunching numbers and simplifying record keeping. Dave’s advice is that the regulations are here, can easily be met and can benefit livestock and the bottom line. He also touches on the need to take care of ourselves during the process. I especially like the idea of a nap to ruminate on columns of figures! Read the article at:

NOSB Spring meeting: A storm in a tea cup

The spring meeting of the NOSB in Seattle, Washington, was held last month and had a very full agenda, with some of the recommendations creating concern and plenty of comments/action alerts as many felt the integrity of organic and historic production practices were at risk. At the opening session Deputy Secretary Merrigan spoke by recorded videocast and NOP administrator Miles McEvoy spoke in person. They set the tone of the meeting by emphasizing the bigger picture and the need for a collegial interaction between the Board and stakeholders which has been the culture of the Board for many years. For a report:

NODPA member survey results

NODPA is a grass-roots organization, relying on the support of its membership, making sure that the needs and thoughts of organic dairy farmers are being heard, and building networks, and providing resources to organic and transitioning farmers. Earlier this year we drafted a survey asking questions about the economic health of their farm, feelings about the new Pasture Rule and whether or not they will be able to comply, whether or not the NOP should require that all certified organic dairy replacements be born from cows managed organically from the last 1/3 of gestation, and where NODPA should be concentrating its energy and resources. Read what producers across the country and from varying size of farms have to say:

Feed price and retail demand both rising for organic dairy

Last year retail sales of organic fluid milk were stagnant, producers were being paid on utilization and feed prices were the lowest of many years. In 2011 the retail market has rebounded more quickly than expected, confounding economist expectations that consumers are only price sensitive in economically difficult times. Consumers are making choices based on organic practices and we have 20% growth in sales year over year and over 95% utilization of organic milk across the country. We also have a conventional grain market heavily influenced by the world climate disasters and the subsidy for ethanol, which has double the price of conventional corn and soybeans, making any response to the need for increased supply of organic feed expensive for producers. For more detailed information please go to:

Pay Price:

Feed Price:

Added In April, 2011:

NOSB to meet in Seattle on
April 26th – NODPA comments
on their recommendations

Added April 7, 2011. Animal Welfare recommendations need to be thorough yet practical – perhaps there needs more discussion before recommendations are voted on by the full NOSB Board? NODPA recommends that any decisions are left for the Fall of 2011. To learn more about these issues, check out the analysis in our current email newsletter >

Alfalfa GE Battle Continues

Added April 7, 2011. Attorneys for the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), arguing that the agency's recent unrestricted approval of genetically engineered (GE) "Roundup Ready" Alfalfa was unlawful. Click here for the latest news, and for additional resources.

Transitioning Organic Cows On Pasture

One challenge with grazing the organic dairy herd is helping cows adjust to a new feed source in both the spring and fall. MORE >

Recent Discussions On ODairy

Robust and practical discussions about herd-tracking software; custom heifer raising; flunixin; feeding withheld milk to calves; effects of peroxide on o-rings; and more.

Alternative udder health management research in progress
at North Carolina State University

The College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have been investigating alternative udder health management strategies for dairy cattle. MORE >

Nutrient Availabilithy & Soil Tests: What Do They Tell You?

Next to weed control, interpreting soil tests and deciding which fertilizers to use are THE most common questions that organic farmers struggle with.



Fill Out Our Member Survey Now>

In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, we are asking all organic and transitioning producers to complete our annual survey. The NODPA board is reviewing its priorities for the 2011 calendar year and would like input from organic and transitioning dairy producers on several important issues. (For more background on the origins of NODPA, click here.)

Thank you for taking the time to fill out this survey. If you know of a producer who does not use a computer, please print off a copy of the survey and pass it on to them.

Download And Print A PDF Version For A Friend >

Fill Out Our Member Survey Online >

Thank you all on behalf of the
NODPA Board and Representatives

ADDED MARCH 14, 2011

Feed Prices, March 2011

Price trends and availability as of March 2011. MORE >

Pay Price & Organic Milk
Market Update, March 2011

Record retail sales and rising prices. Learn more >

New Beginning Farmer Website Unveiled

After a year of development, the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project is pleased to unveil a colorful new website with expanded tools and a wealth of new resources.
More >

Thinking about frost seeding?

Best steps to doing it right. More >

Springtime Challenges for the Grass Farmer: Homeopathic Remedies

Treatments for everything from milk fever and diarrhea to mastitis and pink eye. More >


Defend Farmer and Consumer Choice Regarding GE Alfalfa
On January 27, 2011, the USDA de-regulated Monsanto's genetically engineered alfalfa, in order for it to be widely planted this spring. This was done despite the fact that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) identified many risks and unanswered questions. Learn more about why this is bad for farmers and consumers ... and what you can do about it. MORE >

Fly Control On Organic Dairies
Fly control is one of the top issues facing organic dairy farmers. This article explores the various approaches needed to establish effective fly control on your farm. MORE >

Kevin Jahnke Fly Trap
How to create an effective, low-cost, low-tech fly trap for your farm. MORE >

Subclinical Mastitis—What You Can’t See CAN Hurt You
Annual losses per cow for subclinical mastitis are estimated at $200 year in conventional herds. For organic producers the losses are likely greater because of the higher pay price per hundredweight and the loss of larger premiums. There are various monitoring systems that detect SCC available and likely one of them is appropriate for your farm. Learn more >

Farm Aid Awards Grant to FOOD Farmers
In December 2010, the Federation Of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers) was awarded a grant of $8,000 by Farm Aid to support the work of its supply management committee. Learn more >

Odairy Discussion
Robust and practical discussions about frustrations related to differing certifier interpretations; the health of conventional versus organic herds; treating mange; managing purchase contracts; and more.
Click here for more >

ADDED JANUARY 18, 2011 >

GE Alfalfa – What's the rush??
The Federation of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers) representing over 1400 organic dairy farmers across the country is asking you to cal,l email or fax the White House AND the USDA to ask that the USDA declare a moratorium on the planting of GE Alfalfa to allow the implementation of public oversight of regulations to prevent and monitor contamination.

Sizing Up Pasture

fHow can we best and most easily verify that what the cows are being given access to graze is actually providing what is being documented? Also, how can we make sure we are not wasting pasture – especially in areas where there is a high animal density on farms of relatively small land base? Tips and formulas from Hugh Karreman. MORE >



fPay Price Updates
Organic dairy will enter 2011 in a surprisingly strong position with sales increasing at a double digit pace over last year and supply tightening across the country. MORE >

Feed Price Updates
The organic grain market has been very stable compared to non-organic with a limited response to the increase in prices of non-organic corn and soybean ... MORE >


Enterprise Budgets in Organic Dairy Production

Enterprise budgets can be used as an important decision tool for farm owners and managers. Robert Tigner, Extension Educator at University of Nebraska, Lincoln, reviews the basics of creating an enterprise budget. MORE >

The Economic Costs of Transition
Minnesota economists will study the economic costs associated with transitioning from traditional to organic farming through a new $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. MORE >

Recent Discussions On ODairy
Robust and practical discussions about new tax form requirements, heel wart and foot rot treatments, keeping cows milking after the death of a calf, calf-bloating solution, calculating grazing season lengths, how Pasture Policy is affecting small farms with less land base for pasture, palatable weeds, high-density grazing, treated lumber in farm buildings, and more. MORE >

eA Dairy Farm’s Environmental Footprint:

Evaluating the Impacts of Conventional and Organic Farming Systems

OFRF To Compile Science On Organic Farming Benefits
The Organic Farming Research Foundation today announced the launch of a sweeping research initiative to investigate the potential benefits of organic agriculture. The non-profit foundation recently hired a team to lead the inquiry and intends to release results in the spring of 2011. MORE >

Research Updates from
the University of New Hampshire

Dr. Andre Brito summarizes the results of recent organic dairy-related research studies into the production effects of feeding kelp meal, molasses and flaxseed meal to organic cows. MORE >

Cost-Share Program for USDA
Certified Organic Producers and Handlers
“The USDA National Organic Program, in cooperation with state governments, administers a cost-share program for USDA certified organic producers and handlers. If you are a certified producer or handler, then you may be reimbursed for up to 75% of your costs for organic certification, such as inspection and user fees. You may receive one reimbursement per year for a new certificate or a renewal of certification, provided that the annual maximum reimbursement does not exceed $750 per certificate. This is a great opportunity for organic operators to offset the cost of certification. The program is not competitive - applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis until the money runs out. To apply, contact your state’s Department of Agriculture (or its equivalent) for an application. Click here for contact names, e-mails and phone numbers, or you can call Betsy Rakola, Grants Management Specialist at the National Organic Program: 202-720-3252.


NODPA’s 10th Annual Field Days: A Wrap Up

NODPA’s Annual Field Days and Producers’ Meeting took place at the height of the autumn color on October 7th and 8th in Unity, Maine at the wonderful Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s (MOFGA) Common Ground Fairground and Education Center. We could not have chosen a better venue or a more helpful and welcoming host. Read all that’s fit to print about what happened (unfortunately there are some things we can’t print – you will have to come to the next Field Days for those!) MORE >

Everything you asked for, and then some

The Pasture Rule was unveiled just before Valentine’s Day last February, offering many of us ‘everything we asked for’. The consequence of getting what we asked for is that now we have some added record keeping to do, and producers and certifiers alike need to get used to it. Parry Clutts has no doubt about his feelings when he says “I think it’s a good rule. Good for the cows in that they are able to express their natural grazing behavior! And good for the consumer in that they are getting milk that is fed at least 30% of their diet from pasture during the grazing season.” Find out more >

Supply and Demand:
Milk Price & Feed Price Trends

As with the weather, wait a while and the milk-demand pendulum will swing. As the non-organic dairy industry starts to go again into free-fall with projected MILC payments for February 2011, retail sales for organic fluid milk increased higher than projected. Industry projections for 2011 are for a 15% increase in organic milk sales for 2011 and processors are actively recruiting producers either by encouraging transition from non-organic, producers increasing production or by producers changing processors. Total organic milk products sales for August 2010 are the highest since December 2008. The retail price has remained steady averaging $3.70/ half gallon, with a country-wide range of $1.65/half gallon, the lowest being in Colorado and highest in Minnesota. The retail price gap between conventional and organic narrowed again by 2¢ to $2.06. More details on milk prices coming in January.

With the price of feed rising and producers being cautious about expanding after being forced to contract supply, we are headed for a shortage in supply for 2011.

The price for organic corn is now within cents of the non-organic bushel price. Conventional soybean meal on 11/11/10 was priced $356 / ton, up 18% from August $301; soybeans was at $13.23/bushel, up 31% from August $10.09; and corn was at $5.70/bushel, up 35% from August $4.21. With organic corn and soybeans, the increase has been about half that of conventional corn but very close to the conventional price with soybeans, although very little is being traded as those that haven’t forward contracted are holding back to assess where prices will go. Organic soybean meal was priced at $780 /ton on 11/11/10, up 4% from August; soybeans were at $16.25/bushel, lower than August by $.30/bushel; and corn was at $5.92/bushel, up 15% from August 2010.

For more on organic feed price trends, click here.

National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Meeting Highlights

Lisa McCrory attended the NOSB meeting on behalf of NODPA and was able to present comments on behalf of NODPA and all organic dairy producers. Now that NOP has the financing and staff to publish more information and there is increased opportunity to read about the details of these meetings, Lisa highlights some of the issues that the NOSB faces and where she sees the priorities for the future. Read Lisa’s commentary >

University of Minnesota West Central
Research and Outreach Center-Morris

The University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center at Morris was certified organic in June 2010, and they have over 350 acres of certified organic pastures for both heifers and cows. Currently, the organic herd has 86 milking cows and 64 replacement heifers. A majority of the herd calves in the spring, with about 20 heifers and cows calving in the fall.,Assistant Professor of Organic Dairy Production Systems at the University of Minnesota’s WCROC, Brad Heins, sums up his philosophy and approach at WCROC Of course, any applied dairy research program should focus on specific questions dairy producers would like answered to improve the profitability of their own organic dairy.” Read more >

Irish Research Finds Norwegian Red x Holsteins and Jersey X Holsteins Most Profitable Dairy Cows

We all have our preference for individual dairy breeds and what we can achieve through cross-breeding; how each pure-bred or cross might behave on individual farms and the challenge of finding the best genetics for a grazing herd. While the grass season for Ireland is a little longer than for the northern United States and Canada, the results of this well designed research may be directly applicable to the grazing operations of North America. Whether you agree that Norwegian Red crosses on Holsteins, New Zealand Friesians, Jerseys or crosses of Jerseys and Holsteins or Holstein-Friesians will be more profitable that any purebreds, this research lays out some interesting facts. Pour a glass of Guinness and appreciate the beauty of Ireland: MORE >

Research and Education Grant Opportunities:

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Food Distribution is now accepting applications for the Direct Farm Sales Grant Program project year 2011. The Program provides funds to Pennsylvania-based businesses that manage or operate a farm stand or farmers' markets, non-profit organizations, farmers and local governments for projects intended to promote new or existing farmers' markets.

Business owners can now apply for their share of $2 million in low-interest loans funded by the Ohio Department of Agriculture through a newly created Agriculture Revolving Loan Fund. The Agriculture Revolving Loan Fund will make loans available for the creation and expansion of businesses and industries that support agriculture and rural Ohio.

Are you a farmer with a new idea you would like to test using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, or other technique? Funding is available to support your on-farm research via a Farmer Grant from Northeast SARE(Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education). A technical advisor--often an extension agent, crop consultant, or other service professional--is required as a project participant. Projects should seek results other farmers can use, and all projects must have the potential to add to our knowledge about effective sustainable practices.

For more information on these grants, click here.

Francis Thicke's New Book Now Available

Drawing from his experience as a dairy farmer and soil scientist, Thicke writes broadly about how we can make food production sustainable. MORE >

OMRI Products List Exceeds 2000 Products

The OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) Products List reached a milestone on October 7, 2010, for the first time exceeding 2000 listed products. MORE >

Added October 1, 2010

Access to Pasture Resources
from eOrganic’s Dairy Team
Articles, videos and upcoming webinars. MORE >

Much Ado About Worms . . .
... internal livestock parasite control on an organic farm. MORE >

Calculating Dry Matter Intake from Pasture
10 Steps to Calculate Dry Matter Intake from Pasture---It’s Not So Difficult! MORE >

Tracing Organic Kelp
Farmers Helping Farmers – Across the Waters: Tracing organic kelp back to an island farm harvester. MORE >

Recent Odairy Discussions

Robust and practical discussions of pasture policy changes, scouring calf problem, cow bloat, mastitis problems in fresh cows, mob grazing, dealing with army worms, and uses for triticale.
Learn More >


Added September 6, 2010

Lots of New Listings in Farmer Classifieds
Grain, Real Estate, Livestock, Equipment, Products. Check it out >

An Interview with Richard Mathews
– Architect of the Pasture Rule

2Included in the September NODPA News is an in-depth interview with Richard Mathews, who will be joining us at the October NODPA Field Days. Information covered in the interview spans the history of the creation of the Pasture Rule, equivalency agreements, suggested steps to improve the performance level of accredited certifiers and more.

Click here for a portion of that interview; subscribe to the NODPA News to read it in it’s entirety.

Pay Price & Organic Milk Market in August 2010

Click here for the latest organic milk pay price information, including the retail gap between organic and conventional, total sales figures, price trends and more.

Grain Price Update

The latest prices for organic corn and soybeans, plus spreads between eastern and midwest prices, and price trends over time. MORE >

Why Organic Milk Supply Management?
Finding a way to balance supply with demand that is equitable for producers and processors. MORE >

What’s Organic About Organic?
This award-winning film will be shown at the NODPA Field Days on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. MORE >

On Farm Fuel Production
Current field-based research is indicating that local farmers have a significant opportunity to produce more of their own liquid fuel, livestock feed, and other high value co-products through oilseed crop production in a crop rotation that is compatible with forage production. MORE >

New NOP Director of Standards
NODPA would like to welcome Dr. Melissa Bailey to her new position. Learn more >

Added August 11, 2010

Organic and Raw Dairy Workshops at Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference
UMass Amherst, August 13-15, 2010

The 2010 NOFA Summer Conference will feature a number of workshops on organic dairy production and grazing, as well as a raw milk symposium taking place just before the conference begins. MORE >

Maintaining Healthy Productive Pastures
What can livestock producers do to makes the soil both healthy and productive? MORE >

2010 Northeast Animal-Power Field Days
Friday-Sunday, October 15-17
Tunbridge Fairgrounds, Tunbridge, VT 05077

Dedicated to working draft animals in enterprises that support sustainability of  local communities and vital land-based economies. MORE >

Recent Discussions On ODairy

Pasture rule questions on the 30% DMI rule, the minimum of 120 days as the grazing season, and the amount of record keeping. The use of nurse cows. What about cows who refuse their high-energy, low-protein grains? MORE >

Added July 17, 2010

Raising Calves On Organic Dairy Farms
This fact sheet provides guidance for best management practices. MORE >

What's In Your Farm's Energy Tool Room?
Answers to the many questions facing farmers who are evaluating their energy challenges and opportunities – ranging from managing feed rations to fueling tractors, heating water, trucking manure and cooling milk. MORE >

Forage & Grains
Nebraska dairyman applies raw milk to pastures and watches the grass grow MORE >

eOrganic Plans Pasture Rule Webinars
for Summer and Fall
The eOrganic Dairy Team has scheduled a series of Pasture Rule related Webinars for late Summer and Fall 2010. Mark your calendars. MORE >


The full effect of the downturn in demand for organic dairy has been felt by all producers across the country, but we are now entering a period where demand is increasing. Get more details, charts and analysis by clicking here.


Get the latest East and Midwest feed prices, along with charts showing multi-year price trends. Click here for more.

Added June 7, 2010

Pasture Rule Resource Page Updates 
NODPA has started to contact certifiers who work with organic dairy farms to find out what they are offering for paperwork to document compliance with the new Pasture Rule requirements. We have added a new section to our Pasture Rule Resource Page highlighting resources, OSP documents, and educational opportunities that various certifiers and educators are providing. Learn more >

Organic Valley Lays Down
The Law On Raw Milk
Raw Milk Sales are no longer allowed for some organic dairy producers, but okay for others. Last month Organic Valley's Board of Directors voted four to three to prohibit its member dairies from selling raw milk. (Other processors, including Horizon Organic, are not prohibiting their producers from selling raw milk.) Click to read David Gumpert's article about this very contentious issue. 

Teaching Cows to Eat Weeds
On many farms in the Northeast, cows are into their second  (or third) grazing rotation. At this point in the season, one may find that some pastures have some less desirable plants that did not get eaten and they are maturing and going to seed. Wouldn't it be nice if the cows had grazed these plants too? How do we train our cows to be better graziers? How can we teach them to eat weeds? How nutritious are these rejected plants? Kathy Voth, author of 'Cows Eat Weeds; How to Turn Your Cows Into Weed Managers' has written an article explaining all of this. Check it out >

Fresh Cow Health
During the month of March and April, there was a lot of discussions on Odairy regarding issues with fresh cows including milk fever, prolapses, and grass tetany. The discussions on this active list-serv often times encourage us to find someone to author an article to address those topics. Dr. Paul Detloff, staff Veterinarian for Organic Valley, was nice enough to do just that and wrote write an article titled  'Properly Preparing the Fresh Cow'. Go to it now >

Odairy Discussions
Liz Bawden, a NODPA Representative, Organic producer in NY, and NODPA News Co-Editor always does a wonderful job summarizing discussions that have taken place on our Odairy listserv. These article summaries are published in our bi-monthly print newsletter. If there is a discussion mentioned in her article that you find interesting, you can go to the O-Dairy archives and find the discussions, organized by subject heading, in their entirety. There was one technical flaw in the May Newsletter that Dr. Hubert Karreman found and we have amended Liz's article to reflect that error. In her article it was mentioned that Fleet Enema added to a bottle of dextrose or hypertonic saline would be a good treatment for potassium deficiency (Grass Tetany). This is inaccurate; Fleet Enema is high in phosphorous and would not be an appropriate treatment for grass tetany but would be appropriate for a cow that is down due to low phosphorus. Go to Liz's wrap-up now >

Other Resources for Dairy Farmers:
Books for organic dairy farmers.

ADDED MAY 17, 2010

DIAC holds its first meeting – political convenience or the possibility of real change?

Ed Maltby, NODPA's Executive Director, spent some time in DC in late April as part of the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee and has provided us with a nice summary of the meeting. You can read his full report by clicking here. It is encouraging to see that organic dairy is clearly a part of the discussions. A second meeting is schedule for early June.

Highlights from the latest pasture rule training

The last pasture rule training, which took place April 26th in Woodland California was the best attended workshop yet, with over 80 people - many of whom were producers. To read a summary of what was covered and where we go from here, click here.

Free Choice Smorgasbord Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation for Livestock

During the month of March and April, there was a lot of discussions on Odairy regarding whether or not cows should be offered a free-choice mineral bar and the pro's and con's of doing that. Dr. Susan Beal, the Agricultural Science Advisor for the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, was happy to write an article for us on the topic. Learn more >
Organic Dairy Questionnaire

Pam Moore, an organic dairy producer from Nichols, New York, pulled together a questionnaire asking producers how they have been faring over the past couple of years as a result of the organic milk surplus. We have offered to help circulate this questionnaire with the hopes that she will hear from a wide spectrum of producers from all parts of the U.S. All information will remain confidential. Check out the questionnaire.

Organic Dairy Study Results
for the 2008 Production Year
Over the past 5 years a joint project between NOFA Vermont, UVM Extension and UMaine Extension has examined the economics of organic dairy production in Vermont and Maine, with the study looking only at Vermont for the last 2 years.  What we have found is an agricultural sector that experienced a surge in   profitability and prices in 2006 only to see those profits erode by 2009. Read more >

Improving Net Profit By
Reducing Grain Inputs
The results of research from Chico State University in California studying the impact of reducing grain inputs in an intensive grazing system on milk production, milk quality and income over feed costs. Learn more >


Grain Price Updates
The latest corn and soybean prices, and grain price trends over the past four years. MORE >

NOSB ventures to the West
For the first time in many years the USDA NOP National Organic Standards Board will meet outside of Washington DC. The next meeting of the NOSB will be on April 26-29 at Heidrick Ag History Center, 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland, CA 95776. For more details, click here.

NODPA Awarded Grant From OFRF

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) awarded NODPA a grant of $12,000 for a one year project that will organize the NODPA website archives, making information more easily accessible, searchable and downloadable for certified and transitioning organic dairy producers and professionals serving the needs of organic dairy producers. MORE >

Current Research On Molasses As An Alternative Energy Source For Organic Dairy Herds
As organic grain prices have increased and organic milk prices have decreased, dairy farmers are seeking lowercost supplementation strategies. Sugarcane molasses, a rich source of sucrose, seems to be a viable option as a source of energy.

Recent ODairy Discussions
The NODPA Odairy listserve has some very spirited discussions about different aspects of the new rule plus many other issues. Liz Bawden summarized some of the posts during January and February. MORE >

Pasture Rule Training March 24, 2010:
A highlight of questions asked, the responses, and further ruminations on the NODPA-Odairy discussion list. Click here for more.

USDA Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) to hold first meeting
The long awaited and anticipated first public meeting of the DIAC will take place April 13, 14 and 15th at the USDA’s Whitten Building, Rooms 104 A and 107A, Washington, DC 20250. MORE >

Economic Analysis of Organic
Dairies Coming Soon
The 2008 results of an on-going financial analysis of Vermont’s organic dairy sector by UVM and NOFA-VT have recently been published and Bob Parsons gives us a preview of his upcoming article in the May NODPA News.


Let them Eat Grass

The Pasture Rule is published and the first USDA NOP Pasture Rule Training, covering requirements and resources, was a success. There are other trainings scheduled for different parts of the country, which will be open for certifiers, inspectors, producers and resource professionals. Below are a collection of Pasture Rule resources you'll find very helpful, including a fully updated "Pasture Rule Resource Page."

Pasture Rule Resource Page
Added March 8, 2010. We're continually updating this resource page with new record keeping forms, articles and links to outside resources.

New NOP Pasture Regulation Meets Expectations of Organic Community
Added March 8, 2010. Harriet Behar answers key questions about the Pasture Rule.

Pasture Rule Draws Bright Line
Benefiting Cows & Consumers

Added March 8, 2010. Sam Fromartz reflects on why the fight for the Pasture Rule was so contentious, and what we've gained by passing it.

Added March 8, 2010. A Look at the Newly Released Organic Pasture Rule. Join us for a Webinar on March 17, 5:00 PM to 6:15 PM EDT.

Upcoming Pasture Rule Trainings: Three Pasture Rule trainings are being offered in March and April, taking place in New York, Colorado and California. Producers, certifiers and resource professionals are encouraged to attend. Registration required. Please go to the NOP site for more details.

Highlights from the First Pasture Rule Training
Added March 8, 2010. On February 25, 2010, the NOP held its first of what will be four trainings on the new Pasture Rule. Read this article to learn more about what took place.

Online Resources for Dairy Producers
Added March 8, 2010. Six great resources, from grazing videos to veterinary workshop recordings. MORE >

Articles & Resources Added In February

Keyline plow article sparks discussion
Added February 1, 2010. An article in our January newsletter on the Keyline Plow and its role in soil building has spurred some lively discussion on the NODPA-Odairy discussion list. Click here to read the article by March Krawczyk ... and click here to visit the NODPA-Odairy archives at to follow the thread of conversation that has been happening so far. (If you're registered on O-Dairy, you'll need to log in, then, under "List Name," select ODAIRY. You'll see a list of months. Click on the most recent. If you're not registered on ODairy, go to the listserv page on our web site. There are instructions there for joining, as well as printable instructions.)

Pastureland Cooperative Interviews NODPA Director
Added February 1, 2010. Pastureland Cooperative interviewed Ed Maltby on the proposed new pasture rule. To read the interview, go to:

dSuccessful Vermont Organic Dairy Farmer Must Sell 200 Cow Farm Because Of Health Issues
Added January 25, 2010. Click here to learn more about this opportunity.

Homeopathy: The Mechanics and Its
Application for the Dairy Farm, Part 1
Added February 1, 2010. Of the therapeutic options available to the organic dairy, homeopathy stands alone in its elegance and simplicity. MORE >

Organic dairy farmers win
Good Farm Neighbor Award
Added February 1, 2010. Organic dairy farmers Joe and Tom Molitor have been named the December winners of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's (MDA) Good Farm Neighbor Award. More >

Announcement of Position Available
Added February 1, 2010. Organic Dairy Production and Management, Assistant/Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Department of Animal Science.
Learn more >

Crop Rotation on Organic Farms:
A Planning Manual

wAdded February 1, 2010. “Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual” provides an in-depth review of the applications of crop rotation-including improving soil quality and health, and managing pests, diseases, and weeds.
Learn more >

Resources for the Pasture Rule
In anticipation of the new rule, NODPA has created a Pasture Rule Web Page so that Producers, Certifiers and other Professionals can prepare for a pasture rule that has some teeth in it. The page includes historical documents such as the FOOD Farmers Access to Pasture Recommended Standards (August, 2007), and NODPA's complete Pasture Rule Comments (submitted to the NOP in December 2008). Also on this page you will find useful documents on dry matter calculations, record keeping worksheets for pasture consumption, Organic System Plan (OSP) documentation already being used by Vermont Organic Farmers, LLC (VOF), and more. We will continue to post resources and links as they are made available to us and will update the page regularly with pertinent information.
Click here to visit the resource page.

Added January 11, 2010:

Organic Pay Price

Added January 11, 2010. The full effect of the downturn in demand for organic dairy is being felt by all producers, with no one under the illusion that the situation will improve quickly. Consumer demand is still slightly negative, although there are regional and seasonal fluctuations in sales of fluid milk on a monthly basis; there are only two national buyers for wholesale organic milk; many producers are on short contracts; pay price has dropped; and smaller independent handlers and cooperatives are making difficult decisions about their futur;. Many well established organic dairies that have a good history of working with their processor will have a reasonable year financially but there will be many that have to make difficult personal and professional choices with limited options in 2010. The principal challenges for organic dairy are to manage supply, based on modest and reasonable growth and to balance production by growing a diverse number of organic dairy products rather than relying on the non-organic market to balance any surplus. Organic milk is now a commodity in search of a secure market, with all the problems of a commodity that we know so well from the non-organic milk market. MORE DETAILS>

Organic Feed Summary

Added January 11, 2010. The weather has had a considerable effect on the harvesting as the Midwest has been subjected to wet weather followed by heavy snow storms. With prices at their lowest point in the last two years and very little grain and feedstuff being traded on the organic market, producers are waiting to see what the New Year brings. Wheat trade is at a near standstill and there are confirmed cases of wheat affected with vomitoxin and sprouting in the eastern states. Corn has had some low test weights as the harvest has progressed. MORE DETAILS >

Upcoming Winter Conferences
Added January 11, 2010. Winter time is a great time of year to plan for the coming growing season, network with fellow producers and go to meetings or conferences. We have compiled dairy workshop highlights taking place at some of the more popular winter conferences in the Midwest and the Northeast. For many of these, it is common to tape record the sessions, so if you cannot make it to these events, perhaps you can get a dvd or audio recording of some of these interesting workshops. Learn more >

Recent Discussions On ODairy
Added January 11, 2010. Calf blankets, round bale unrollers, lamnitis, drug treatments in milk, de-wormers, rescuing a hypothermic calf, the
milk-per-acre concept, linebreeding, and anaphylactic shock from vitamins. MORE >

Invaluable Dairy Handbook Just Released From NOFA-NY
Added January 11, 2010. Whether you are transitioning to organic, have been certified organic for years, or are a consultant providing services to organic dairy/transitioning dairy clients, The Organic Dairy Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Transition and Beyond is a wonderful resource. MORE >

Summary of Concerns Regarding A1 and A2 Milk and Dairy Breed Rankings
Added January 11, 2010. Questions and answers about milk rankings. Learn more >

Alfred State Picks Site for New Dairy
Added January 11, 2010. Alfred State College announced the site selected for its new facilities to teach dairy production. Learn more >

Added December 3, 2009

Producer Handler rule comment
period ends December 21
On October 21st, 2009, USDA issued a recommended decision that, if it becomes rule, would require producer-handlers marketing more than 3 million pounds of fluid milk products each month to be subject to the same pooling and pricing provisions as fully regulated handlers in all Federal Milk Marketing Orders. Currently, all producer-handlers are exempt. If this USDA recommended decision comes to fruition as rule, it has potential to have an impact on the organic dairy marketplace. For more information click here to read Kathie Arnolds article.

At the USDA, What Does Change Mean?
For the first time, advocates can lobby for real change in one sector of the market; organic and sustainable agriculture - and get an ear at the highest levels of the USDA, says Sam Fromartz. MORE >

Promiseland's Organic
Certification Revoked for 4 Years
The USDA Administrative Law Judge supported NOP’s revocation of one of the largest organic livestock and grain operations, Promiseland Livestock, LLC. The judge ruled that they would lose their organic certification for 4 years for failure to supply documentation to back up their organic certification. Click here to download the judgment.

Problems with the "natural" label
The Federation of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers), the umbrella group for organic dairy producers across the country, is concerned about the misleading of consumers by labeling and packaging of dairy products, particularly "natural" labeling. Click here to download the FOOD Farmers press release on the topic.

Research Updates

Sustainable Farm Educators. Northeast SARE periodically looks around the region for articulate, skilled farmers who can go to workshops and conferences that address issues important to other farmers. Could you be one?
Learn more >

Udder Health and Milk Quality on Organic Dairy Farms. The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont and the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association combined energies this past October to provide a workshop for veterinarians covering the National Organic Program’s certification standards for organic livestock production systems with a focus on udder health and milk quality.

UNH Welcomes Dr. André F. Brito. The University of New Hampshire has recently added a new staff person to their Organic Dairy Management Team. Learn more about him.

Interview with Miles McEvoy, new Deputy Administrator of the NOP

Added November 10, 2009. In this interview, you will find that  Miles is very qualified, bringing over 20 years of experience in organic production and certification. His plans for the coming year, which was presented with incredible detail at the National Organic Standards Board Meeting on November 3, 2009, are very encouraging and we look forward to working with him and helping him achieve his ambitious goals (Click here to download Mr. McEvoy’s power point presentation).
Farm Bureau,
MOFGA, get MOOMilkCo off to a good start

Added November 10, 2009.Some very encouraging news is that Maine’s Own Organic Milk Company (MOOMilkCo) will be up and running by the end of November! Earlier this year ten organic dairy farms were dropped by HP Hood and were soon to be without a market for their organic milk. The story behind the creation of the MOOMIlkCo includes the valiant, creative and collaborative efforts between the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and the Maine Farm Bureau, with support from the Maine Department of Agriculture. Read more >
Stonyfield Farm enters into a partnership with Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative to take over their milk brand

Added November 10, 2009.The recent partnership between Stonyfield Farm and Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative [click here for full article] has stirred up a lot of conversations on ODAIRY, and at producer meetings. Spirits are high as there are many producers who are now reassured that they will continue to have a market for their organic milk. We applaud Stonyfield Farm, Organic Valley and HP Hood for their efforts in making this happen.  We cannot forget, however, that there are many HP Hood producers whose contracts will be ending before January 1, 2010 and will be without a market for their milk.

A Summary of the National Organic Standards Board Meeting Nov. 3-5, 2009

Added November 10, 2009. Recently appointed Program administrator, Miles McEvoy, gave a very thorough analysis of where the Program is and what the goals are for the future. (You can view his powerpoint from the NOSB meeting by clicking here.) In addition, there was a thorough discussion of the Animal Welfare Recommendations from NOSB's Livestock Committee. (To read the recommendations in full, click here.) For a full summary of the event by NODPA Executive Director Ed Maltby, click here.

More Than A One-Horse Hitch Is Needed
To Get Us Out Of This Mess

Added November 10, 2009. So, how can we continue to build the market demand for organic dairy products? According to Peter Hardin (The Milkweed), this effort goes beyond organic dairy; the dairy industry as a whole needs to be addressed and there are 4 key areas that need to be addressed. Read more >

WODPA Fall Conference Highlights

Added November 10, 2009. The WODPA Field days took place October 13 & 14 in Twin Falls, Idaho. NODPA Board Member Liz Bawden was able to attend and provided a wonderful summary of the two-day event. Read more >

Heirloom Economy
Added September 14, 2009. In our debates why aren’t we discovering how we got where we are, focusing our efforts on creating a sustainable economy or exploring how the rest of the world lead comfortable lives and safeguard their resources? MORE >

Go Local & Prosper ... In More Ways Than One
Added September 14, 2009. Localism is becoming a strategy to save the farm and the businesses and communities that depend on it. MORE>

There Is No Right Way To Become A Farmer ...
Added September 14, 2009. Pat Skogen, an organic dairy farmer in Wisconsin, tells her story of coming late and unexpectedly to farming. MORE >

NODPA’s 9th Annual Field Days And Producer Meeting: A Wrap-Up

Added September 14, 2009.
After 8 years the Annual NODPA Field Days returned to the Stoltzfoos’ family farm, Spring Wood Organic Farm in beautiful Lancaster County, PA with a full educational program under the theme “Practical and Efficient Organic Dairy Farming Practices in Hard Economic Times.” Click here for links to several articles summarizing what took place, and what producers learned.


Counting the Costs that Count on Your Farm
An article by keynote speaker James Landis. MORE >

Lameness in Organic Dairy Cattle
A great article on lameness by Hugh Karreman, who will speak on the topic of animal health at the Field Days. MORE >

Plant Biodiversity: Livestock Farmacy and Pantry
An article on biodiversity by Jerry Brunetti, which touches on the themes of diversified pasture and hedgerows that will be addressed at the Field Days. MORE >

Change we can believe in and see!!

Added August 6, 2009. USDA has announced that it will subject the National Organic Program (NOP) to a stringent audit and continued oversight by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). MORE >

Opinions and Commentary on Organic Dairy & Beyond

Added August 1, 2009. The last 6 months have seen the world of Organic Dairy turned on its head and, of course, everyone has an opinion on whom or what caused the problem and what a solution might be. Many of these opinions are reflected on the NODPA moderated Odairy listserve and you can find archived summaries of those conversations at, where you can also sign up for the listserve. We want to share these thoughtful and sometimes humorous commentaries with a wider audience. Click here to view three commentaries: The system is broken – can it be fixed?, an essay by Francis Thicke. An open letter to Stonyfield founders, from the Maine Organic Milk Producers (MOMP). Time to be politically incorrect?, an essay by ODairy regular Kevin Englebert.

Climate Change Ruminations

Added August 1, 2009. In the past year there have been a lot of articles written focusing on green house gas emissions and the impact that cows are making on our environment by burping and defecating. NODPA published a few articles in the July NODPA News sharing what we feel is good information; highlighting the benefits organic management practices, high forage diets, the use of rotational grazing systems on production farms and the disadvantages of liquid manure storage systems. Read the article contributions from Meredith Niles (Climate Policy for Agriculture that Works), Sam Fromartz (The Misguided Science Behind rBGH and Climate Change) and Troy Bishop (The Passing Wind) for some good science, policy, opinion and a chuckle.
Click here for more >

NY Branded Milk!
Added August 1, 2009. An Interview With Dean Sparks of Empire Organics

Research initiated to study cattle
health problems facing organic dairy industry in Vermont

Added August 1, 2009. This is the first in a series of NODPA articles describing research efforts underway in Vermont to meet the needs of Organic Dairy Producers.

Recent Discussions on ODairy
Added August 1, 2009. Measuring somatic cell counts. Treating an early case of coliform mastitis. Stimulating a cow to calf. Help with a calf scours problem. Dealing with flies. Read more >

Added August 1, 2009. The latest corn and soybean prices, and grain price trends over the past four years. MORE >

Added August 1, 2009. New England pay price since 2006, trends in organic fluid milk sales for the past four years, and new data comparing conventional and organic prices.

Pay Price And Support Control
Added July 1, 2009. We all knew that the demand for organic milk could not continue to grow at the 20%+ it has over the last three years but the dramatic drop we have experienced this year is unprecedented and unpredictable. To shed some light on the situation we have an article that attempts to compare what the major companies are doing in this new market place. MORE >

Added July 1, 2009
The latest corn and soybean prices, and grain price trends over the past four years. MORE >

Added July 1, 2009
New England pay price since 2006, trends in organic fluid milk sales for the past four years, and new data comparing conventional and organic prices. MORE >

Organic Initiative Sign-Up
Extended in Some States
Added June 1, 2009. The Natural Resources Conservation Service has given States the option to extend their sign-up period for Organic Initiative funds beyond the initial deadline of May 29th. Learn more >

Milk Quota’s – What should we look for?
Added June 1, 2009. With the introduction of quotas by Organic Valley, we list some areas to look at when considering any proposed quota system from the milk companies.

Making the Most of Your Milk Check
What Dairy Farmers Need to Know About Assignments
By Jill E. Krueger, Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc.
Added June 1, 2009. MORE > (in PDF Format)

Report from the May 2009
NOSB Meeting

Added June 1, 2009. The National Organic Standards Board met in Washington, D.C. from May 4 – May 6, 2009. Ed Maltby, NODPA Execlutive Director, summarizes the issues addressed at the meeting. MORE >

Job Openings: Director of National Organic Program; Superintendent,
UNH Organic Dairy Research Farm
Added June 1, 2009. Click here to learn more.

Profitability of Organic Dairy, 2007
Added June 1, 2009. The results of an on-going financial analysis of Vermont’s organic dairy sector by UVM and NOFA-VT indicate farms in the study averaged $18,522 net farm earnings, a 0.5% return on owner equity.
Learn more >

Organic Dairy Research and Outreach
at WCROC in Minnesota

Added June 1, 2009. The University of Minnesota will become the first land grant in the Midwest to manage an organic dairy herd that is dedicated to research and education. The growing organic sector in Minnesota will soon benefit from information that is tested by rigorous science. More on this initiative >

Update on Dairy Management
Research at Cal State Chico

Added June 1, 2009. The CSU Chico Organic Dairy Unit is now into its 3rd lactation as a seasonal, managed intensive grazing, organic dairy operation. Learn more >

FOOD Farmers Speak Out on Abuse of the Producer Handler Exemption
Cincinnati May 11, 2009: Kathie Arnold, Rick Segalla and Tony Schilter supported by Dan Fullencamp presented testimony on behalf of the Federation of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers) to the public hearing that was held to consider proposals seeking to amend or remove the producer-handler provisions and revise the exempt plant provisions applicable to all Federal milk marketing orders.

Click here to download the testimony.
Click here to download the Food Farmers' letter.

Puzzled By PI Spikes?
Added May 7, 2009. Things you can do to reduce the count.

What's the Value of High Quality Forage?
Added May 7, 2009. The key management factors influencing forage yield and quality, and an economic comparison of 3 forage systems. MORE >

Producers Working as Partners
Added May 7, 2009. It is important that producers use collective marketing to achieve a price level that is fair for all involved rather than going it alone and only serving just oneself, says Charlie Johnson, an organic grain producer in South Dakota. MORE >

Recent Discussions on ODairy
Added May 7, 2009. Not surprisingly, the current state of supply and demand in organic dairy and worry about how the spring flush will play out were common threads in discussions this past month. But there were lots of other management and health issues that became the focus of discussion. Read more >

DC Update, April 1, 2009
Access to pasture update, status of new appointees, and the generally positive outlook for organic in Washington. MORE >

June may be Dairy Month ...
... but not for organic family farmers that sell to Horizon Organic, who will see a pay cut of $1/cwt for their milk. NODPA urges consumers to buy more branded organic milk.

Thinking Outside The Fence
Added March 31, 2009. Organic Dairy Looks to Robotic Milker to Increase Family Time
Learn more >

Managing Cereal Grains for Forage
Added March 31, 2009. Cereal grains are a versatile crop that can be harvested for forage or grain. MORE >

Nutritional Wisdom of the Body
Added March 31, 2009. Behavior-Based Management for Animal Well-Being
. MORE >

Grain Market Update
Added March 31, 2009. Compared to two weeks ago, organic grain and feedstuff prices were steady on light demand and moderate offerings with trade at a near standstill. MORE >

HP Hood and Organic Valley cut
organic family farmers income ...

... and NODPA praises Horizon Organic for honoring their contract with their farmers. MORE >

Organic pay price declines as processors panic over spring flush of milk and declining growth in sales
Added March 6, 2009. An analysis of recent pay price drops by NODPA Executive Director Ed Maltby. Learn more >

Petitions Sent to USDA Requesting End of Producer-Handler Exemption
Added March 6, 2009. Producer-handlers, those vertically integrated businesses that produce and process milk, have been exempt in most Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMO) from paying pooling costs that other handlers have been required to pay. That may soon end. More >

Recent Discussions On ODairy
Added March 6, 2009. Sub-clinical hypocalcemia. Bale processors. Dealing with those "deals". These are just a few of the topics addressed recently on ODairy. More >

Update on Pasture Rule and Administration Changes
Added March 6, 2009. Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director, reviews the new Obama ag appointments, and provides a quick update on the status of the pasture rule. MORE>

Washington State WIC Program
Rejects Organic Milk. Don't Let This
Go Unchallenged.
Added March 6, 2009. Recently the Washington State WIC Nutrition Program came out with a decision to NOT include organic milk on their list of WIC-approved foods. Learn more about their decision, and NODPA's response.

Grain Market Update
Added March 9, 2009. With spring approaching and a very soft conventional market, producers are selling their inventory at the lowest prices of the year. Learn more.

Added January 31, 2009. “It’s all about internal mineral balance!” says Dr. Richard Holliday.

Organic pay price declines as processors panic over spring flush of milk and declining growth in sales
Added March 6, 2009. An analysis of recent pay price drops by NODPA Executive Director Ed Maltby. Learn more >

Petitions Sent to USDA Requesting End of Producer-Handler Exemption
Added March 6, 2009. Producer-handlers, those vertically integrated businesses that produce and process milk, have been exempt in most Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMO) from paying pooling costs that other handlers have been required to pay. That may soon end. More >

Recent Discussions On ODairy
Added March 6, 2009. Sub-clinical hypocalcemia. Bale processors. Dealing with those "deals". These are just a few of the topics addressed recently on ODairy. More >

Update on Pasture Rule and Administration Changes
Added March 6, 2009. Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director, reviews the new Obama ag appointments, and provides a quick update on the status of the pasture rule. MORE>

Washington State WIC Program
Rejects Organic Milk. Don't Let This
Go Unchallenged.
Added March 6, 2009. Recently the Washington State WIC Nutrition Program came out with a decision to NOT include organic milk on their list of WIC-approved foods. Learn more about their decision, and NODPA's response.

Grain Market Update
Added March 9, 2009. With spring approaching and a very soft conventional market, producers are selling their inventory at the lowest prices of the year. Learn more.

Get Step-by-Step Organic Farm
Plan Help in New Workbook

Added January 31, 2009. Transitioning to organic farming? Already switched, but needing to update your farm plan? Get step-by-step help in the Organic Whole Farm Planning Workbook, just released by Ohio State University’s Organic Food and Farming Education and Research (OFFER) Program. MORE >

Recent Discussions On ODairy
Added January 31, 2009. It has certainly been busy on ODairy recently. The discussions began with rat control, and ranged from the feeding of young calves to outwintering, to the best workboots ... to cannabilism in cows. MORE >


Posted January 21, 2009. For more information on NOFA-NY and the position, click here. TO APPLY: Email resume and a letter of interest, inclusive of salary requirements, prior to 2/16/09, to: (Current President, NOFA-NY), or Scott Chaskey c/o Quail Hill Farm, PO Box 1268, Amagansett, NY 11930.
Resume reviews will begin immediately.

Access to Pasture Rule:
Win, Lose or Draw for Producers?

Added January 11, 2009. In this final installment in our ongoing coverage of the pasture rule process, NODPA Executive Director Ed Maltby summarizes what's been happening over the past several years. You'll also find a link from this article to comments submitted by farmers around the country. Read more.

Pasture Access Rule Listening
Session Transcripts Posted
Added January 11, 2009. The National Organic Program has posted the transcripts of listening sessions held in December in Pennsylvania, Texas and California on its proposed access to pasture regulation. The transcripts are available as PDF files on the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service website.

Organic Feed Update
Added January 11, 2009. Trade in organic grain leading up to the holidays was slow with prices running about the same as January 2008 and roughly double that of conventional grain. With corn between $9-9.50 a bushel on the farm there are many rumors of a surplus of corn being held back from trading but nothing has shown in the marketplace and the price for16 and 18% prepared feed has not come down. For more prices, click here.

What Obama Means for Organic
Added January 11, 2009. There are hints that his ag secretary Tom Vilsack may have an open mind to alternative viewpoints. A column by Sam Fromartz. Read more.

Dehorning Dairy Cattle With Genetics

Added January 11, 2009. Looking at the economic advantages with polled dairy cattle

More >

From Our 2008 Field Days:
Added November 8, 2008
Ed Maltby, NODPA's Executive Director, summarizes what happened at the Field Days. MORE >

NODPA Field Days 2008 Photo Gallery
The Field Days, as usual, was a great gathering of farmers who met to discuss politics, marketing and production. In addition, over 50 people joined Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens to learn more about the Marrowstem Kale (Bonanza Variety) trial taking place at Bejo Seeds, take a tour of the Lakeview Organic Grain facility, spend time at the Martens’ 1400 acre farm, and visit some of the surrounding corn fields that will be soon harvested for grain. Scroll through photos of the event.

Latest edition of WODPA's Newsletter
Now Available Online

Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance publishes a newsletter, Integrity. The December issue is now available in PDF format. Click here to download it.

Feed Price Dropping Slowly
Added December 1, 2008. With only about 80% of corn harvest complete, prices are steadying at November 2007 prices, averaging around $9 per bushel. There are reports of producers not selling or “hording” grain to see which way the economy is headed and what the final harvest volume will be. Availability and quality is always an issue. Check out the latest feed prices >

Organic Ag & The US Farm Bill: Some Insights
Added November 14, 2008. OTA and The Organic Institute, in partnership with the National Center for Appropriate Technologies (NCAT, home of the ATTRA project), Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), presented a one-day educational conference, "Growing U.S. Organic Agriculture: Accessing the 2008 Farm Bill," at the Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis campus on November 12. At that conference Richard Mathews gave a presentation on how the program works and the goals for the program. For a PDF of his presentation, click here.

Organic Grain Update
Added November 8, 2008. The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released a new publication, Using Vertically Coordinated Relationships to Overcome Tight Supply in the Organic Market. Here is a link to that outlook report:

For updated pricing for organic feed on the NODPA web site,

NODPA SE Field Days Photos
Added October 8, 2008. The organic dairy community gave Arden Landis a great send-off with the pasture walk at his farm on September 18. The weather was great, the land beautiful and over 100 attendees appreciated the work that Arden and Caroline have put into building an excellent grazing operation. There will be a more complete article in the next NODPA News, but you can scroll through photos of the event.

National Organic Coalition opposes proposed Sustainability Standards from Leonardo Institute
Added September 27, 2008. The National Organic Coalition is deeply concerned about the adverse impact that a sustainable agriculture label will have on the urgent need to increase our nation’s organic acreage and production practices. View their letter to the Leonardo Institute, which NODPA has signed on to. (in PDF format)

The Latest East & Midwest Organic Grain & Hay Prices
Added September 14, 2008. The wheat market is seeing a bit of weakening as many users are quickly filling their needs after a good harvest. No new crop soybean contracts were reported as producers are still in a wait and see mode, especially with the cooler, wet weather. Some big volumes of new crop corn contracts are being sold from $10.00 per bushel to $10.75 per bushel. There just seems to be a lot of uncertainty in that market. Read more, including graphs of price for soybeans and corn for 2008 ….

Funding Opportunities
Research and planning grants in the Northeast and North Central US
Added September 14, 2008. Click here for a listing of funding opportunities in the Northeast and North Central US.

Recent ODairy Discussions
Topics recently ranged from how to wrap rained-on forages to what kinds of tests for cows before purchase. MORE >

September NODPA News Now
Available To Members For Download in PDF

The latest edition of NODPA's informative, 40-page by-monthly print newsletter is now available for download in PDF format to all NODPA members and newsletter subscribers. Click here to download it now!

The Latest East & Midwest
Organic Grain & Hay Prices

Added September 5, 2008. Flood, drought, hurricane, ethanol, high world prices – any wonder it’s difficult to keep up with how much your winter feed will cost. At NODPA we at least try to keep you informed. Click here for more.


European Union Launches Promotional Campaign for Organic Food and Farming
The European Commission announced recently that it is launching a new Organic Farming Campaign for the European Union. Under the campaign slogan: "Organic farming. Good for nature, good for you," the promotional campaign aims to inform consumers about the meaning and benefits of organic farming and food production. The campaign will focus on increasing consumer awareness and recognition of organic products. As part of the initiative, a new multilingual website for organic farming provides an electronic "toolbox" that offers marketing materials in 22 languages free of charge in order to promote organic production and farming.

The Latest East & Midwest
Organic Grain & Hay Prices

Added August 3, 2008. Organic grain farmers are talking, but there's not much action yet: They are assessing the market but most don’t want to do anything yet as they are waiting to see what the crop will bring. There was some trading in new crop corn sales and some new crop spring wheat and hard red winter wheat sales, but no drop in prices. Availability will be the next big question. MORE >

So You Want To Learn More About Organic Dairy?
Added August 3, 2008. Organic dairy has been growing rapidly over the past 10 years and with that, a number of educational opportunities have evolved. Karen Hills, Crop and Soil Technician at the University of Vermont has compiled a very nice summary of opportunities from degree programs, non-degree programs, and internships. Contact us at NODPA if you know of other opportunities that should be added to this list! Learn more >

Recent Organic Research
On Organics & Food Supply

Added July 29, 2008. Below you'll find links to recent organic studies. The articles focus on "Can organic feed the world?" and the economics of organic transition. All are posted on our web site in PDF format. To open or download a research article, just click on one of the links below:

More Organic Milk Sought in Northeast
Added July 29, 2008. The word from all the major organic dairy buyers on what they're looking for at this time. Farmers should be sure to have a market secured before beginning the 12 month herd transition. Here's contact information from buyers that will help you secure your markets. MORE

So You Want To Learn More About Organic Dairy?
Added July 21, 2008. For those in search of more directed educational opportunities, there are several options to choose from including university programs, workshops, and internships. Learn more >

Price & Availability of Corn & Forage: How should producers prepare for the Fall?
Added July 5, 2008. So: What is affecting price and availability? In general, people are assuming that tonnage of grain will be short this year and much of the corn that is for sale is, in a sense, being set aside to wait and see. Other factors affecting price include speculators and Hedge Fund investors who are joining the commodity market as they exploit the uncertainty and short fall in supply against rising markets. Read Lisa McCrory’s article for a full analysis.

The Latest East & Midwest Grain & Hay Prices
Analysis, data and some advice from Iowa State University on replanting after the flood, plus the latest numbers on East and Midwest grain and hay prices, and a chart showing cost changes over time. MORE >

Recent ODairy Discussions
Added July 5, 2008. Will consumers change (or not change) their purchasing decisions in the marketplace driven by the tightening economy? Is there any research that would support that transition to organic production does not necessarily mean a drop in milk production? Plus, lots of tidbits and advice: bull calves become sexually active at 7-8 months of age, and how to stop diarrhea. Summarized by NODPA Board Secretary Liz Bawden. MORE >

PRESS RELEASE: June 18, 2008
NODPA stands for a living wage for organic dairy farm families
NODPA appeals to all processors to listen to their farmers and work with them to increase their base farmgate pay price by a total of 60¢ a gallon to move towards family farm profitability. We also support a temporary moratorium on transitioning livetock farms to organic. To learn more, and check out our new ad promoting this issue, click here.

The Price of Feed
June 20, 2008: Analysis--Grains and oilseeds lower on profit taking and outside markets. Plus the latest numbers on East and Midwest grain and hay prices, and a chart showing cost changes over time. MORE >

Coalition of Organic Groups Presses for Immediate Publication of Pasture Access and Livestock Origin Rules
June 16, 2008: NODPA and the National Organic Coalition joins with Federation of Organic Dairy Farmers, WhiteWave Foods (Horizon Organic), HP Hood (Stonyfield brand), Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farm, Humboldt Dairy, Organic Choice, Pastureland Cooperative and Organic Dairy Farmers Cooperative to urge USDA to publish the access to pasture and origin of dairy livestock standards immediately. We've updated this, with a fuller history of the initiative.
Learn more >

The Retail Food Dollar and How Farmers Receive Their Share
June 7, 2008: What portion of the organic milk retail price goes to the farmer, and what will it take to keep farmers profitable for the longterm? Enjoy this fascinating look at the complexities of the retail organic dairy market. MORE >

DC Update, June 6, 2008
More roadblocks to pasture access and livestock origin rules. Farm Bill: back to the President soon for another veto? Attention turns to appropriation bills. MORE >

The Price of Feed
June 6, 2008: The latest numbers on East and Midwest grain and hay prices, plus a charting of cost changes over time. MORE >

DC Update, June 1, 2008
The Farm Bill is very close to becoming law despite its many clerical and political missteps. See what everyone is saying about it. MORE >

NOSB Update, June 1, 2008
While the Congress was on vacation, the volunteers that serve on the hardworking citizen advisory National Organic Standards Board were at work trying to make sense of the National Organic Program ... from adding Okra to the national list, TAP reviews and organically certified protein for fish.  MORE >

Comment on access to pasture and origin of livestock
A letter from NODPA to the NOP addresses publication of the access to pasture rule and the publication of an origin of livestock rule. MORE >

DC Update, May 23, 2008
Farm Bill Updates, and NOP dairy update. MORE >

The Price of Feed
Added May 21, 2008. The latest organic grain and hay prices in the East and Midwest, plus a pay price/retail price comparison chart for organic milk. MORE >

DC Update, May 16, 2008
The Farm Bill is final on the President's desk, awaiting a veto and then a certain override of that veto. Here are some of highlights related to organic and sustainable agriculture. MORE >

Realistic Expectations: What Are They?
Let's ALL get real about our expecations of price & profit, says Darlene Coehoorn, MODPA President. MORE >

Reading the NOP Leaves
What does the recent reorganization at the National Organic Program mean for organic farmers? Samuel Fromartz speculates. MORE >

DC Update as of May 9
Is the Farm Bill battle over? Learn more >

The Price of Feed
Added May 9, 2008. The latest organic grain and hay prices in the East and Midwest, plus a pay price/retail price comparison chart for organic milk. MORE >

DC Update as of May 1
Congress passes two-week farm bill extension. National Organic Coalition and National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture meeting in Baltimore later this month. National Organic Standards Board meets just afterward, same location. Learn more >

More Organic Milk Sought in Northeast
Added May 4, 2008. The latest word from processors seeking organic milk. MORE >

Press Release: April 28, 2008
HP Hood LLC refuses to address increase in costs of production
for their organic family farms and demands money back for a one month overpayment of 17 cents a gallon.

Press Release: April 30, 2008
HP Hood LLC refuses to address increase in costs of production
for their organic family farms
Also demands money back for a one month overpayment of 17 cents a gallon. MORE >

A Quick Update from DC re Pasture Rule
April 25, 2008: The access to pasture rule is moving up the review hierarchy in Washington. Click here to learn more about the details.

Interviews with Ed Maltby and Gary Hirschberg On Boston's WBZ Radio
April 22, 2008: WBZ 1030 in Boston ran two interviews on organic dairy. NODPA director Ed Maltby provided the farmer perspective on high fuel costs and their impact on farmer profits, while Stoneyfield's Gary Hirschberg spoke to the impact of these costs on organic businesses.

Click here to listen to Ed's interview.
Click here to listen to Gary's interview.

Why Organic Dairy Farmers Should Learn To Love High Organic Grain Prices
Kevin Engelbert argues that, instead of condemning organic crop producers for finally getting parity price, we should all celebrate. Added April 4, 2008.

ACTION ALERT: Posted March 28, 2008
Stop the Attack on Public Health and the Environment in the Farm Bill

Proposed Farm Bill language would restrict USDA’s ability to prohibit the use of pesticides in certain conservation programs.

Profitability for Organic Dairy Farms for 2006
Added March 28, 2008. The organic dairy sector has become a haven for smaller family operated farms, but they have not escaped the situation where rising feed, fuel, and other expenses continue to chip away at their profitability. Click here for more on this detailed analysis by Bob Parsons.

NODPA Press Release Inspires Spirited Dialogue On Production Costs and Pay Price
March 14, 2008. On March 7, the NODPA board and members of the FOOD Farmers organizing committee published a press release on the Gristmill web site calling attention to rising production costs for organic farmers--and the limited response to this crisis from processors. The press release brought a response from Gary Hirschberg of Stoneyfield Farm, and a final response from NODPA Executive Director Ed Maltby. To learn more about the issue, and to browse the back-and-forth responses, click here.

Pennsylvania Pasture Lab Update
March 14, 2008. The deadline for budget requests to the House Ag Appropriations sub-committee--which decides the future of the pasture lab--is next week. Revisit our article on this topic and send in your letters of support! MORE >




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